Oscar Pistorius murder sentence: Paralympian to spend more time in jail

• Pistorius given six year sentence after manslaughter conviction upgraded to murder
• Sentence was delivered by Judge Thokozile Masipa, who heard the original trial
• Comes three weeks after Pistorius hobbled across courtroom to demonstrate his physical vulnerability
• He will serve his sentence in the hospital section of Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, 29, who was dressed in a dark suit, hugged members of his legal team, a witness said, before he sat down to hear his fate.

Steenkamp's mother and father, who said Pistorius had to pay for his crime, were also in the court.

Pistorius was freed from prison in the South African capital Pretoria last October after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter.

He was to serve out the remainder of his term under house arrest in his uncle's house in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria.

But an appeals court upgraded the conviction to murder, which has a mandatory sentence of 15 years.

In handing down her sentence, original trial judge Thokozile Masipa has indicated she has to "determine whether there are 'substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from minimum 15 year jail term...'".'

"I have confined myself to what I consider strictly necessary although I've had regard to all the evidence as well as submissions placed before this court," she said.

Reeva Steenkamp was killed on Valentine's Day 2013. Photo / Getty
Reeva Steenkamp was killed on Valentine's Day 2013. Photo / Getty

She has referred to previous evidence given by previous witnesses like Professor Jonathan Scholtz, who found that he displayed signs and reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

She also looked at Pistorius's personal circumstances, and his family background including his parents' divorce when he was young and how he was born with missing fibula in both of his legs. She also mentioned his poor relationship with his father who was in court to hear the sentencing.

"Pistorius has no previous convictions. He is a renowned athlete ... He attended both primary and high school in Pretoria When he was in grade nine, his mother passed on... he felt the loss deeply," she said.

But Judge Masipa said the court could not put much weight on what Pistorius told Professor Schultz because "there was no way to test the veracity of the complaints as Pistorius did not give evidence".

"Secondly, Professor Scholtz did not fare well under cross examination," she said.

"The fact that Pistorius thought Reeva was an intruder does not make the crime less serious," she added.

She repeated that the crime of murder was a serious offence.

"The interests of society demand that people who commit serious crimes such as murder be punished severely," she said.

Judge Masipa said there was "not a shred of evidence before this court that supports this perception", that there was a row that occurred between Pistorius and Steenkamp.

She said there was also "no indication at all that the deceased was in abusive relationship at all".

In looking at evidence from Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp, she said it showed "that the pain runs deep and the impact of Pistorius' conduct on the family of the deceased has been devastating".

But Judge Masipa spoke admiringly of the runner's repeated attempts to meet Reeva Steenkamp's family after the incident occurred. She said she was of the belief he had shown some remorse.

"It is my view that it must be one of the most difficult things for any accused to have to face the victims of his crime and to apologise," she said.

"It is highly improbable therefore, that the accused would persist in his request to meet the parents of the deceased and ask for forgiveness if he was not genuinely remorseful."

Oscar Pistorius walks across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the hearing for a resentence at Pretoria High Court on June 15. Photo / File
Oscar Pistorius walks across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the hearing for a resentence at Pretoria High Court on June 15. Photo / File

She said the court was obliged to consider the fact that the accused successfully completed the rehabilitation programs while incarcerated - even though it was for a lesser crime of culpable homicide, rather than murder. She believed Pistorius is "a good candidate for rehabilitation" and is unlikely to reoffend.

But she had to be fair to the family and to Pistorius, as she handed him a six-year jail term.

Pistorius, 29, shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

Nel also criticised Pistorius for filming a recent television interview, despite claiming to be too unwell to give evidence in court.

In the interview - his first since the killing - Pistorius said that he believed Steenkamp would want him to devote his life to charity rather than return to prison.

Steenkamp's father 73-year-old Barry broke down during his testimony at the sentencing hearing as he called for Pistorius to "pay for his crime" of murdering Reeva, a model and law graduate.

Pistorius, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014, has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in December ruled that Pistorius was guilty of murder, irrespective of who was behind the door when he opened fire with a high-calibre pistol he kept under his bed.

His is now likely return to the hospital section of Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, separated from regular inmates.

Pistorius - who was born without calf bones - had his legs amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old so he could be fitted with prosthetic legs.

Since his release, Pistorius has lived under restrictions at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria.

He became the first Paralympian to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

- news.com.au

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