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06th Jul 2016

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

He was branded a "fallen hero"

Matt Tate

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

The former Paralympian athlete had his initial manslaughter conviction upgraded to murder on appeal. He has already served 12 months of the original five-year prison sentence, and until today’s trial was being held under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion.

Pistorius arrived in court facing a minimum term of 15 years behind bars, but Judge Thokozile Masipa, who heard the original trial, referred to “substantial and compelling circumstances” for reducing the sentence that outweighed the aggravating factors.

This is the moment Pistorius was sentenced.

Acknowledging the aggravating factors, Masipa told the court:

“The accused used a lethal weapon and fired not one but four shots into the toilet door knowing full well that there was someone behind the door. The toilet was a small cubicle and there was no room for escape for the person behind the door. The accused had been trained in the use of and handling of fire arms.”

She continued by recounting the mitigating factors that she believed justified a reduced sentence of six years. According to the judge, Pistorius “approached the bathroom in the belief an intruder was inside. He was without his prosthesis and felt vulnerable. His belief of an intruder is supported by his actions when he realised it was the deceased in the toilet.

“He was distraught and kept on asking God to save the deceased’s life.”
She also told the court that each case is different, saying: “Our courts are courts of law, not of public opinion”.
She said deciding on the right sentence is “never easy” and referred to the former Olympic sprinter as a “fallen hero”. Pistorius hugged his family before being taken away to the holding cells. Judge Masipa has adjourned to give prosecutors time to decide whether they want to launch an appeal.