Oscar Pistorius gets 6 years in prison - As it happened

2016-07-06 13:00

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. Read on for how sentencing unfolded in the High Court in Pretoria.

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Last Updated at 08:50
06 Jul 13:20

In summary: Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

In her sentencing, Masipa said that, while the crime committed was serious, a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice in this case.

Masipa said there were many mitigating factors, including Professor Jonathan Scholtz's testimony that there were "two Oscars", and balanced that with the seriousness of the crime to arrive at her 6-year sentence.

Pistorius was transported directly to Kgosi Mampuru II prison after the sentencing in Pretoria. His lawyers said they would not be appealing.

The Steenkamp's lawyers meanwhile told the ANCWL in court GD that there should be a "dignified silence" from now on.

The State has not confirmed yet if it would be appealing the sentence.


06 Jul 12:46

Barry and June Steenkamp's lawyer Dup de Bruin told the ANCWL to remain dignified in their silence following the sentencing of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

*UPDATE: News24 earlier reported that lawyer Dup de Bruin had given this advice to the Steenkamps. He had in fact been talking to the ANCWL, while the Steenkamp's stood behind him in support of his statement.


06 Jul 12:22

Pistorius will not appeal sentence

A member of Oscar Pistorius's legal team said outside the High Court in Pretoria that they will not appeal his six-year jail sentence for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

"We respect the decision of Judge Masipa and are not lodging an application for leave to appeal. Oscar will serve his sentence as handed down," Andrew Fawcett told reporters.

Advocate Dali Mpofu weighed in on that decision on Twitter, saying it was "wise", as an appeal could backfire on Pistorius.


06 Jul 12:20

'Pistorius likely to serve less than 6 years in prison'

Top defence lawyer William Booth has said Oscar Pistorius may end up serving quite a bit less than six years in prison.


06 Jul 11:57
Watch Oscar Pistorius leave the High Court in Pretoria via police convoy, headed for Kgosi Mampuru II correctional facility.

06 Jul 11:52
Oscar Pistorius arriving at Kgosi Mampuru II prison just before noon on Wednesday.

06 Jul 11:51
June and Barry Steenkamp have left the High Court in Pretoria. (Lerato Sejake, City Press)

06 Jul 11:46

The Steenkamp's have spoken to reporters outside the courthouse in Pretoria, saying there is nothing the family can do about the sentence.

Pistorius's legal team meanwhile have said they respect the judge's decision, and won't appeal the sentence.


06 Jul 11:35
The Steenkamp's attorney Dup de Bruyn speaks to the ANCWL. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

06 Jul 11:33
People gathered in Paul Kruger Street hoping to get a glimpse of Oscar Pistorius. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

06 Jul 11:29
Oscar is embraced by family members and supporters after his sentencing. (AFP)

06 Jul 11:23

Top lawyer William Booth has told News24 that he believes the sentence was "on the lighter side".

"In my view, the sentence is fairly lenient when one looks at the seriousness of the crime.

"If you look at his conduct, firing four shots in close range knowing someone was inside [the bathroom].

"Having said that, I always believed he would not get the minimum custodial sentence of 15 years, as there were many mitigating factors, and the judge took that into account.

"So he has probably received a sentence on the lighter side. I would have expected 8, or 9 years."


06 Jul 11:19

06 Jul 11:19

06 Jul 11:17

Journalists are waiting outside the courthouse for family members to comment on the sentencing.

Oscar's uncle Arnold said he would give comment at around 11:30.


06 Jul 10:55
Watch Oscar hug his family after hearing he will serve six years in prison.

06 Jul 10:34
Masipa: "Mr Pistorius please rise.

"In the result, the sentence I impose on the accused in terms of murder dolus eventualis, is six years imprisonment.

"I'd like to thank counsel for their assistance, the officers of the court, and the staff.

"In the meantime, I will adjourn and I'll be in chambers.

"Counsel I'm willing to hear an application for leave to appeal today."

Court is adjourned.

06 Jul 10:32
"The life of the accused also has changed forever.

"Recovery is possible. It will depend mostly on the accused's attitude of the punishment imposed on him.

"Punishment is not what you choose to do. It is something that is imposed on you. By it's nature it is unpleasant, uncomfortable and painful.

"I have considered all the evidence, submissions and case law.

"A long term of imprisonment will not serve justice in this matter. The accused has already served 12 months, he is a first offender and he is not likely to re offend."

06 Jul 10:31

Masipa now concluding, saying it is a difficult case.

"The life of the deceased will never be brought back. The facts considered are the gravity of the offence, the interests of society, and the rights of the deceased and the accused.

"Earlier I mentioned the impact on the family of the deceased. What was evident from the testimony is that the family's lives will never be the same.

"Both Mr Steenkamp and Mrs Steenkamp have forgiven the accused."


06 Jul 10:29

Masipa: I do agree with the State however that Professor Jonathan Scholtz's testimony that the accuse should have been hospitalized was unreliable.

No steps were taken to show this.


06 Jul 10:28
Masipa: No one has said that the accused is violent by nature.

What was said in prison reports, was that the accused was struggling to adjust to life in prison.

I did not get the impression that prison authorities tried to vilify the accused and brand him a violent person.

On the contrary, the accused made progress to adjust and made progress with prison authorities.

The fact that the accused may be quick-tempered, does not imply he is a violent person.

06 Jul 10:26

Judge Masipa now saying that the court cannot change the facts of the case, even though the verdict has been changed.

"This court is obliged to remember that the accused has successfully completed his programmes above.

"The accused is a good candidate for rehabilitation.

"The accused had also encountered prison during his original sentence."


06 Jul 10:23

Masipa: In the present case, public opinion may have been loud.

The facts have not been disturbed. It is those facts that will guide this court on its decision.

The defence counsel is correct that the "Oscar was not the acclaimed Oscar who defied odds on the race track who won medals."

The defence showed the accused on his prosthetic legs, and on his stumps.

This is clear that there are two Oscars, as testified by Professor Scholtz.

To ignore these facts, would be an injustice.

There are however equally important facts that inform my sentence.


06 Jul 10:20

Masipa quoting further case law regarding public opinion.

"A sentencing policy that catered predominantly to public opinion was inherently flawed.

"Public opinion may have some relevance, but cannot replace the court's duty."


06 Jul 10:19

Masipa: In my view, such indignation must be viewed on facts, and tested under cross-examination.

When incorrect facts exist, it is the duty of the court to correct and to put it in perspective, to prevent unjustified outrage from the public.


06 Jul 10:18

Masipa: All the submissions based on public opinion were made with good reasons.

Had it not been for the wide interest in the case, I would probably have dismissed those submissions, as a court of law cannot rule based on public opinion. It must rule without fear or favour.


06 Jul 10:17
Masipa: The pain suffered by the deceased's family is real. It is there.

Nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that the accused was found guilty of murder dolus eventualis.

To do so cannot serve the ends of justice.

06 Jul 10:14

Masipa: I find that there are compelling and exceptional circumstances to deviate from the prescribed sentence of 15 years.

Appropriate sentence

Each case is different. This court is indebted to both counsel, referring to previous cases with similar precedents.

However, none of those cases have the exact same circumstances as this case.


06 Jul 10:13

Masipa: The State says the accused showed no remorse. I disagree.

At the commencement of the original trial, the accused apologized to the parents of the deceased.

He also tried unsuccessfully to meet with the deceased's family without success.

Mr Steenkamp confirmed the accused had made this request through lawyers, but the family was not ready.

It must be one of the most difficult things to face victims of a crime.

According to the State, the court should still deliver a long sentence, as the crime bordered on dolus directus. I disagree.

The finding of the SCA was that the accused had been found of a crime closer to dolus eventualis.


06 Jul 10:10

Masipa now addressing the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

Aggravation

1) "The accused used a high caliber firearm and shot through a toilet door knowing there was someone behind it.

2) The accused was trained in firearms, but did not display this training on the night of the incident.

Mitigation

1) The accused believed there was an intruder in his bathroom.

2) He was without his prosthesis.

3) The accused took steps to correct his mistake upon realizing it.

"He was distraught and pleaded with God to save the deceased."

There was no accounts that contradicted the accused's actions after realizing his mistakes.


06 Jul 10:07

Masipa: "The more the court feels uneasy about a prescribed sentence, the greater the anxiety that the court will deliver an injustice.

"Each case then should be decided on its own peculiar facts."


06 Jul 10:05
Masipa says the case precedents say the court before applying the mandatory minimum offence, it must consider if there are unique circumstances in the case before it.

06 Jul 10:03

Masipa continues to quote Criminal Act, as well as former case precedents, saying that there are exceptions for unique circumstances.


06 Jul 10:02
Masipa now quoting Criminal Procedure Act.

Masipa: When an accused is a first offender convicted of murder that was not planned, the court shall sentence the accused to not less than 15 years.

06 Jul 10:01
Masipa: The evidence of both Mr Steenkamp and Ms Martin shows that the pain runs deep, and the impact has been devastating.

The impact on the family, and their withdrawal from society needs to be taken into account in sentencing.

06 Jul 09:59
Masipa: According to Mr Steenkamp, the deceased would call home every weekend to talk.

The evidence shows the Steenkamp's had a very close bond. Now, Christmas, birthdays and Valentine's Day is a painful reminder that the deceased is no longer with them.

Mr Steenkamp says the deceased's death impacted heavily on him, affecting his health.

06 Jul 09:58
Masipa: The deceased was young and full of hope for the future.

This picture was painted by her father Mr Barry Steenkamp, and her cousin Kim Martin.

Ms Martin described the deceased as a loving and wonderful person, and would not completely get over the death of the deceased.

The deceased had plans not only for herself but for her parents as well.

06 Jul 09:57
Masipa: Society has a right to determine certain expectations.

It follows though that expectations cannot be legitimate if based on wrong perceptions.

I now deal with the deceased and her family.

06 Jul 09:55

Masipa: I now deal with the interests of society.

Society demands that those who commit serious crimes must be punished severely. This though must be legitimate public interest.

The defence submitted that there was an "unfortunate perception" that the accepted version was false, and the accused and the deceased had had an argument the night of Reeva's death.

The defence claimed Mr Steenkamp, Reeva's father, was influenced by this perception.

This though cannot be ignored by this court. But court must deal with facts before them, and not on speculation. There is no evidence to substantiate that version of events.

The fact that the accused did not take the court into it's confidence does not give the court the right to speculate.


06 Jul 09:53
Masipa is now relaying the accepted version of events on that night in February 2013, including Oscar's mistaken thought that Reeva was an intruder.

"Murder is a serious offence, even if it was a case of mistaken identity," she says.

She now relays the accepted version point for point, from the initial gunshots, to the testimony of witnesses, and the aftermath.

06 Jul 09:50
Masipa now addressing Oscar's claims of mistreatment and fear at Kagiso Mampuru II prison in Pretoria.

She quotes testimony from Nurse Mashabane.

Masipa: "Ms Mashabane has appeared as a competent witness and showed no reason to be unreliable."

06 Jul 09:48

Masipa: After his release from prison, he served house arrest at his Uncle's house in Waterkloof.

According to Professor Scholtz, the accused's attitude towards firearms has changed. He has sold all his firearms and never wants to touch one again.

He was found not to be psychotic, or suffering from anti-social behavior. He has been enrolled in a B.com course.

His anxiety disorders have increased though, and "warrants hospitalisation", Masipa says of Scholtz's testimony.

He has also endured constant stress and pressure from the media.


06 Jul 09:46

Masipa continues to outline some of the arguments in mitigation and aggravation of sentence.

Pistorius's parents divorced when he was 6-years-old, and he showed no signs of outward anger about this.

His mother's desire for safety and security and her decision to own a gun influenced his fear and outlook on safety.

After her passing, he felt his mother's passing as a big loss.


06 Jul 09:44
Masipa now reading out Scholtz's report on Pistorius.

The accused is 29-years-old and a world-renowned athlete.

At the age of 11 months, he had a bilateral below the knee amputation. He attended school in Pretoria, and uses prosthetic legs. When he was in Grade 9, his mother passed on.

After Grade 12, the accused enrolled for a B.com degree at University of Pretoria, but had to drop out due to his career as an athlete.

06 Jul 09:42

Masipa: The third witness was the accused's pastor, Marius Nel.

Nel found the Oscar to be a "broken man" willing to help his community and contribute to society again.


06 Jul 09:42
Masipa: The next witness was Icelandic woman Ebba Gudmundsdottir for the defence.

Masipa relays Gudmundsdottir's account of Pistorius's warmth to her and her family. Her son suffers from the safe affliction as Oscar.

06 Jul 09:40

Masipa: Scholtz was initially appointed as one of the panelists to assess the accused in 2014 in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Scholtz said he sought and attained information from the Health Professions Council of SA.

In his assessment, Scholtz found that the accused displayed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and a major depressive disorder.

Pistorius's short-term memory had been so compromised that he was deemed unfit to testify during the trial, and believed he should have been hospitalized.


06 Jul 09:38

Masipa: Both the State and the defence lead with arguments in mitigation and aggravation of sentence.

There is no reason to go through the evidence heard in this court during mitigation and aggravation.

The only evidence that shall be set out in details is of Professor Jonathan Scholtz (psychologist).


06 Jul 09:37

Judge Masipa is now reading from her court notes.

"It now remains for this court to impose an appropriate sentence. To determine a fitting punishment."

She lists the factors involved in arriving to her decision:

1) the offender

2) the interests of society

3) the victims of the offence

4) retribution

5) deterrence

6) rehabilitation

15 years is the prescribed minimum in this case, she says.


06 Jul 09:34

Judge Masipa has arrived and asks Oscar Pistorius to rise.

Court is in session.

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