Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.
The six-time Paralympic gold medallist was sentenced by a court in Pretoria on Wednesday morning, having been found guilty of murdering Steenkamp by an appeal court in December last year.
The 29-year-old killed Steenkamp by shooting through a locked toilet door in February 2013 and was originally convicted of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, in September 2014, having said he believed he was firing at an intruder.
But that verdict was subsequently overturned by the appeals court and the conviction was upgraded to murder.
Pistorius was facing a possible 15-year jail term for the murder but Judge Thokozile Masipa said substantial and compelling circumstances existed in the double-amputee Olympic runner’s case, which justified a lesser sentence.
Judge Masipa, who oversaw the original trial which led to the manslaughter conviction, said: “Although a custodial sentence is a proper sentence, I am of a view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice in this matter.
“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 re-offend.”
And Judge Masipa, who described Pistorius as a “fallen hero”, then announced the sentence, which will probably see Pistorius serve three more years in jail.
Many legal experts had earlier said they expected Pistorius to be sentenced to a term of between 11 and 14 years.
And Jacqui Mofokeng, spokeswoman of the ruling ANC party’s women league, told AFP: “We are very disappointed. From five years (the culpable homicide sentence) that we fought against, and now it is six, what is that?
The sentencing may not be the end of the legal proceedings, as the state could launch a final round of appeals against the length of the prison term.
But Pistorius will not be appealing against the six-year sentence, according to one of his lawyers.
Andrew Fawcett told journalists: “We respect the decision of (judge Thokozile) Masipa and will not be lodging an application for leave to appeal, and Oscar will serve the sentence as handed down.”
Pistorius, known as the ‘Blade Runner’ due to his use of carbon fibre prosthetic running blades, was a figurehead of Paralympic sport, having won six gold medals across three Games.
He made history when he became the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympics at London 2012, making the semi-finals of the 400m.