Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 6 years in prison

Judge says South African Paralympian, who shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times, was a good candidate for rehabilitation; 'long-term imprisonment will not serve justice'.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius (L), who was found guilty of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, looks on during the hearing in his murder trail at the High Court in Pretoria. July 6, 2016.

Updated Jul 8, 2016

Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympian, was taken to jail immediately on Wednesday after being sentenced to serve six years for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in his Pretoria home in 2013.

The state had called for him to receive no less than the prescribed minimum 15-year sentence for murder. Pistorius, 29, however, will serve half of that.

High Court judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday listed several mitigating factors for sentencing him to less than half the minimum term for murder, including the athlete's claim he believed he was shooting an intruder.

“Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” Masipa said in her ruling.

Judge Thokozile Masipa during the resentencing hearing of Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa. June 15, 2016.

“Long-term imprisonment will not serve justice in the matter. The accused has already spent 12 months in prison and is a first offender and is not likely to reoffend. The sentence that I will impose will have to reflect not only that but also the seriousness of the offense. It will have to be in so far fair to the accused, the system and society at large,” Masipa said after asking Pistorius to rise to hear his sentence.

Pistorius was taken out of the court in Pretoria to begin serving his term. A fresh round of appeals can still be made over the length of his prison term by the prosecution or the defendant.

The double-amputee Olympic and Paralympic sprinter was freed from prison October 2015 after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide – the equivalent of manslaughter. He was released under the terms of remaining under house arrest.

In December, an appeals court upgraded his conviction to murder.

Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

A bloody Valentine

February 14, 2013 – Pistorius shoots Steenkamp, a model, in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four hollow-point bullets into her through the toilet door.

February 15 – Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder "in the strongest terms".

February 19 – Pistorius claims in an affidavit he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. He fired through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors term "premeditated" murder.

February 22 – Pistorius is granted bail.

March 3, 2014 – The trial opens in Pretoria before an army of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who tells the court she heard "terrible screams" from a woman. Ten days later, Pistorius vomits when a picture of Steenkamp's body is flashed on the court's television screens.

April 7 to 15 – Pistorius takes the stand and begins with a tearful apology to Steenkamp's family.

This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by bouts of tears and breaks in the session. Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.

June 30 – After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude that Pistorius does not suffer from mental illness.

September 12 – Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter.

October 21 – Judge Thokozile Masipa sentences Pistorius to a maximum of five years in jail. The athlete is immediately taken to Pretoria prison.

October 20, 2015 – Pistorius is allowed out of prison after just one year to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

December 3 – The Supreme Court of Appeal convicts Pistorius of murder, saying his testimony was "vacillating and untruthful".

December 8 – Pistorius is released on bail pending sentencing, and remains under house arrest.

January 11, 2016 – Pistorius makes last-ditch attempt with South Africa's top court to overturn his murder conviction.

March 2 – Pistorius loses his final bid to appeal his murder conviction.

July 6: He is sentenced to six years in jail for the murder. 

TRTWorld and agencies