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Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ jail sentence for murder more than doubled to 13 years, five months

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 10:45pm

Oscar Pistorius’ prison sentence was increased to 13 years and five months by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday, more than doubling the Olympic runner’s jail term for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Justice Willie Seriti said the Supreme Court upheld an appeal by prosecutors against Pistorius’ original six-year sentence for shooting Steenkamp several times in his home in 2013.

Steenkamp’s parents were “emotional” as they watched the court proceedings on television at home, family lawyer Tania Koen said.

“They feel there has been justice for Reeva. She can now rest in peace,” Koen said. “But at the same time, people must realise that people think this is the end of the road for them … the fact is they still live with Reeva’s loss every day.”

Pistorius killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, after shooting four times through a closed toilet cubicle door with his 9mm pistol. He claimed he mistook the 29-year-old model and reality television star for an intruder and was initially convicted of manslaughter. That conviction was overturned and replaced with a murder conviction by the Supreme Court in 2015. He was then sentenced to six years for murder, a decision also now rejected by the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors called the six-year sentence much too lenient and the Supreme Court agreed, saying in a full written ruling released later that “the sentence of six years’ imprisonment is shockingly lenient to a point where it has the effect of trivialising this serious offence”.

The court said Pistorius “displays a lack of remorse, and does not appreciate the gravity of his actions”.

Pistorius’ brother, Carl, wrote on Twitter: “Shattered. Heartbroken. Gutted.” A spokesman for the Pistorius family did not answer calls from the AP.

Pistorius should have been sentenced to the prescribed minimum of 15 years for murder, Seriti said.

The new sentence took into account the one year and seven months Pistorius served in prison and under house arrest after his initial manslaughter conviction and was backdated to start on the day he began his murder sentence, on July 6 last year.

The decision by the five judges was unanimous, Seriti said.

Pistorius must serve at least half of the 13 years and five months – nearly seven years – before he can be considered for parole.

Pistorius, who turned 31 on Wednesday, is being held at the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre on the outskirts of the South African capital, Pretoria.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision also has possible consequences for where he is held for the remainder of his sentence. Pistorius was moved from the high security Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in central Pretoria to Atteridgeville, which houses prisoners sentenced to six years or less. Pistorius might now be moved back to a higher security facility.

The ruling could also bring an end to a near five-year legal saga surrounding the double-amputee athlete, a multiple Paralympic champion and record-breaker who was the first amputee to run at the Olympics and one of the most celebrated sportsmen in the world.

Pistorius’ lawyers have just one avenue open to them if they want to challenge the new sentence handed down by the Supreme Court, and that is to appeal to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa.

Pistorius failed with an appeal to the Constitutional Court last year to challenge his murder conviction.