Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee sprinter to compete at both the Paralympics and the Olympics, was sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence was announced by South African judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday.
“Although a custodial sentence is the proper sentence, I am of the view that a long term imprisonment will not serve justice in this matter,” Judge Masipa said. “The accused has already served a sentence of 12 months imprisonment. He is a first offender, and considering the facts of this matter, he is not likely to reoffend.”
“We respect the decision of Masipa and we will not be lodging any applications for leave to appeal going forward, and Oscar will serve his sentence as handed down by Masipa,” Pistorius’ lawyer Andrew Fawcett said.
Pistorius, 29, shot and killed Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, in the early morning on Valentine’s Day 2013, firing four bullets through a bathroom door. While he claimed the killing was accidental, having mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, the prosecution argued the act was intentional after the couple had a late-night argument.
Judge Masipa convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide – similar to manslaughter – in September 2014, following a trial that stretched across seven months. He was sentenced to five years in prison and served one year before being released to house arrest last October. Two months later, the Supreme Court of Appeals changed the verdict to murder.
While prosecution called for the minimum murder sentence of 15 years, the defense argued that his disability (both of his legs were amputated below the knee as a baby) and emotional distress were mitigating factors. In announcing the six-year sentence, Judge Masipa ruled that Pistorius, a “fallen hero,” is genuinely remorseful and a good candidate for rehabilitation. “It must be one of the most difficult things for any accused to have to face the victims of his crime and to apologize,” she said.