Pistorius' jail sentence more than doubled

Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius shot dead Ms Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013.
Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius shot dead Ms Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013.

JOHANNESBURG • South Africa's Supreme Court more than doubled Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius' murder sentence yesterday to 13 years and five months, after the state argued that the original sentence of six years for killing his girlfriend, Ms Reeva Steenkamp, was "shockingly lenient".

Pistorius, 31, was not in court for the hearing.The Paralympic athlete shot dead Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013 when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

He had pleaded not guilty in 2014 and had always denied he killed her in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

The athlete was originally convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail. He was released in 2015 after serving one year of the initial five-year term, but returned behind bars after his murder conviction in December 2015, when his sentence was increased to six years by trial judge Thokozile Masipa.

Judge Masipa ruled that although the Steenkamps had suffered a great loss, Pistorius' life and career were also in ruins.

State prosecutors said they would appeal, arguing there had been no mitigating circumstances to give such a sentence.

Pistorius, a gold medal-winning athlete, is known as the "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fibre prosthetics.

At the appeals court hearing earlier this month, state prosecutors said the athlete, who was wealthy and enjoyed celebrity status, had shown no remorse for killing Ms Steenkamp, a model and law graduate.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux had argued that he did not deliberately kill her and the appeal should be thrown out.

Judge Willie Seriti, reading out the court's decision, said: "The sentence imposed... in respect of murder is set aside and substituted with the following: The respondent is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 13 years and five months."

Ms Steenkamp's family, who was not in court, welcomed the sentence and said it showed justice could prevail in South Africa.

The accused's brother Carl Pistorius tweeted he was "shattered, heartbroken, gutted" by the ruling.

Ms Nazreen Shaik Peremanov, a constitutional law don in South Africa, said Pistorius could appeal the latest sentence at the country's highest court: the Constitutional Court.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Pistorius' jail sentence more than doubled'. Print Edition | Subscribe