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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.
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.
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.
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.
Well advised...SCA might have increased...up to 15years....not worth the risk https://t.co/ZNE2px18JU— Dali Mpofu (@AdvDali_Mpofu) July 6, 2016
Well advised...SCA might have increased...up to 15years....not worth the risk https://t.co/ZNE2px18JU
'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.
#OscarPistorius convoy has left North Gauteng High Court #enca pic.twitter.com/6a9Tl9VUFg— Lenyaro Sello (@lenyarosello) July 6, 2016
#OscarPistorius convoy has left North Gauteng High Court #enca pic.twitter.com/6a9Tl9VUFg
#OscarPistorius arrives at Kgosi Mampuru correctional facility. pic.twitter.com/y4bb8ihkwu— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) July 6, 2016
#OscarPistorius arrives at Kgosi Mampuru correctional facility. pic.twitter.com/y4bb8ihkwu
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.
Reaction by Steenkamp family : Nothing will bring Reeva back. The best thing to do is to maintain a dignified silence. #Pistorius @KayaNews— Nhlanhla Sehume (@sehume_n) July 6, 2016
Reaction by Steenkamp family : Nothing will bring Reeva back. The best thing to do is to maintain a dignified silence. #Pistorius @KayaNews
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."
VIDEO: #OscarPistorius father has left court #eNCA pic.twitter.com/QH1sx9nVZW— Lenyaro Sello (@lenyarosello) July 6, 2016
VIDEO: #OscarPistorius father has left court #eNCA pic.twitter.com/QH1sx9nVZW
Some people have gathered near journalists holding up their phones waiting for #OscarPistorius #enca pic.twitter.com/RkSkgQkXZ7— Lenyaro Sello (@lenyarosello) July 6, 2016
Some people have gathered near journalists holding up their phones waiting for #OscarPistorius #enca pic.twitter.com/RkSkgQkXZ7
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.
#OscarPistorius The Steenkamp family doesn't want to comment now, Pistorius family will apparently issue a statement.MV— Maryke Vermaak (@MarykeVermaak) July 6, 2016
#OscarPistorius The Steenkamp family doesn't want to comment now, Pistorius family will apparently issue a statement.MV
WATCH #OscarPistorius hugs his family after he was given a 6 year sentence.MV pic.twitter.com/tg96qRIDni— Maryke Vermaak (@MarykeVermaak) July 6, 2016
WATCH #OscarPistorius hugs his family after he was given a 6 year sentence.MV pic.twitter.com/tg96qRIDni
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Masipa now addressing the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
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.
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.
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."
Masipa continues to quote Criminal Act, as well as former case precedents, saying that there are exceptions for unique circumstances.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
15 years is the prescribed minimum in this case, she says.
Judge Masipa has arrived and asks Oscar Pistorius to rise.
Court is in session.
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