Pistorius likely to serve less than 6 years in prison - top lawyer

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Oscar Pistorius arrives at the North Gauteng High Court. (Themba Hadebe, AP)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the North Gauteng High Court. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

Cape Town - A top defence lawyer has told News24 that Oscar Pistorius will likely serve less than six years in prison, following his sentencing in the High Court in Pretoria, provided he complies with all the requirements for parole.

Pistorius was sentenced to six years for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Wednesday.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said there were compounding mitigating factors in his case, and that a lengthy jail term "would not serve justice".

- Live update: Oscar Pistorius sentencing

Defence lawyer William Booth told News24 that he believed 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 at 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 eight or nine years."

Parole

Booth said that the sentence is effectively "seven years", if you take into account that Masipa considered the year Pistorius has already served, but that he would more than likely serve less than the six years handed down.

"He will have to comply with all the parole requirements, and all that is determined administratively by the Department of Correctional Services. It's a separate issue.

"So we could be looking at three years, or even less, before his remaining sentence could be converted to correctional supervision."

Booth said that if a person's parole release date was less than five years into the future, the department could request that they be taken to court for the sentence to be turned into correctional supervision.

"The period that he may effectively serve is quite a bit less than six years, as long as he complies with all the regulations.

"This is not a given, these are just the legal possibilities, they are not definite."

Appeal

Booth also said he expected an appeal from the State.

Pistorius's legal team has already said they will not appeal the sentence.

"It is a difficult thing to resentence someone," Booth added.

"No sentence is really going to satisfy the accused or the members of society."

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