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Oscar Pistorius murder ruling: Reeva 'able to rest now' says Steenkamp family after appeal verdict

Published 03/12/2015

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp arrive for an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012.
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp arrive for an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012.
Oscar Pistorius right, is comforted by his brother, Carl Pistorius, inside court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday May 5, 2014 (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, May 5
June Steenkamp listens to Oscar during cross examination in the Pretoria High Court on April 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Craig Nieuwenhuizen/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius sits with his head in his hands in the dock on the third day of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool)
Gina Myers, Reeva Steenkamp's best friend, is overcome with emotion as she listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court on April 9, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi - Pool/Getty Images)
Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, second from right, cries as she listens as her brother testifies in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Oscar and Aimee Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on April 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier - Pool/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius reacts as he listens to evidence by a pathologist in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
June Steenkamp (2nd L), Reeva Steenkamp's mother listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court on April 9, 2014
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Reporters listen to the live feed from the court on the third day of Oscra Pistorius's trial on March 5, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius blocks his ears inside the high court on the second day of his trial in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Media and public surround the car carrying Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the North Gauteng High Court after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A stray dog sits next to a newspaper poster on the second day of the Oscar Pistorius trial on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius (C) leaves North Gauteng High Court amid a media scrum after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Office workers watch Oscar Pistorius leave North Gauteng High Court amid a media scrum after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, Barry Roux, in court on the second day of Pistorius' trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Media and locals brave the rain as they wait to try and get a glimpse of Oscar Pistorius as he leaves North Gauteng High Court at the end of the first day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A television reporter holds a newpaper as he files a report from inside the foyer of North Gauteng High Court as Oscar Pistorius faces trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Abandoned step ladders and equipment stand on the pavement outside North Gauteng High Court as Oscar Pistrious slips into court through another door and journalists pursue him on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius looks shortly after arriving for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
From left, Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, his aunt Lois, and uncle Arnold wait for the start of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
June Steenkamp, the mother of as Reeva Steenkamp, arrives at the high court for the start of the trial of Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Reeva Steenkamp's family say she will be "able to rest" after a South African appeals court ruled Oscar Pistorius was guilty of her murder.

Pistorius, 29, was convicted of manslaughter for shooting Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013.



Barry Steenkamp, broke down in tears as he spoke to the media in South Africa. He said the family was relieved at today's verdict and that the judgement was "fair".

The former athlete insisted he thought she was an intruder behind a door in his home during the incident. The prosecution said Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp during an argument.

The double-amputee Olympian was released from jail on October 19 after serving one year of a five-year sentence and is under house arrest.

Prosecutors appealed against the verdict in the hope of achieving a murder conviction.

Justice Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered the ruling by the five-judge appeals court on Thursday in Bloemfontein and said the trial court, the North Gauteng High Court, should impose sentence.

He said Pistorius ought to have been found guilty of murder and has referred the matter back to the original judge for sentencing.

The judge said the trial court made a fundamental error in its application of "dolus eventualis" - or indirect intention.

He described Steenkamp’s death as "a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions".

Oscar Pistorius right, is comforted by his brother, Carl Pistorius, inside court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday May 5, 2014 (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius right, is comforted by his brother, Carl Pistorius, inside court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday May 5, 2014 (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9
Oscar Pistorius looks straight ahead inside a courtroom at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday May 5 (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, May 5
June Steenkamp listens to Oscar during cross examination in the Pretoria High Court on April 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Craig Nieuwenhuizen/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gina Myers, Reeva Steenkamp's best friend, is overcome with emotion as she listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court on April 9, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi - Pool/Getty Images)
Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, second from right, cries as she listens as her brother testifies in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Oscar and Aimee Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on April 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier - Pool/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius reacts as he listens to evidence by a pathologist in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
June Steenkamp (2nd L), Reeva Steenkamp's mother listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court on April 9, 2014
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Oscar Pistorius sits with his head in his hands in the dock on the third day of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool)
Reporters listen to the live feed from the court on the third day of Oscra Pistorius's trial on March 5, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius blocks his ears inside the high court on the second day of his trial in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Media and public surround the car carrying Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the North Gauteng High Court after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A stray dog sits next to a newspaper poster on the second day of the Oscar Pistorius trial on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius (C) leaves North Gauteng High Court amid a media scrum after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Office workers watch Oscar Pistorius leave North Gauteng High Court amid a media scrum after the second day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, Barry Roux, in court on the second day of Pistorius' trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Media and locals brave the rain as they wait to try and get a glimpse of Oscar Pistorius as he leaves North Gauteng High Court at the end of the first day of his trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A television reporter holds a newpaper as he files a report from inside the foyer of North Gauteng High Court as Oscar Pistorius faces trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Abandoned step ladders and equipment stand on the pavement outside North Gauteng High Court as Oscar Pistrious slips into court through another door and journalists pursue him on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius looks shortly after arriving for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
From left, Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, his aunt Lois, and uncle Arnold wait for the start of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
June Steenkamp, the mother of as Reeva Steenkamp, arrives at the high court for the start of the trial of Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 03: A newspaper vendor sells the Pretoria News as the Oscar Pistorius trail starts at North Gauteng High Court on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, aged 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius denies the allegation claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder inside their home on Valentines Day 2013. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Aimee Pistorius,left, the sister of Oscar Pistorius, speaks with unidentified people as she arrives for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Oscar Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
Carl Pistorius, right, the brother of Oscar Pistorius walks outside the high court before the start of his brother's trial in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock prior to the start of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, ool)
Oscar Pistorius, center front, arrives for his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo)
Carl Pistorius, at center in blue suit, the brother of Oscar Pistorius is escorted by police as he arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Oscar Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 03: June Steenkamp (R), the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, arrives at North Gauteng High Court for the trial of Oscar Pistorius on March 3, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, aged 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius denies the allegation claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder inside their home on Valentines Day 2013. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Reeva Steenkamp's coffin arrives at her funeral ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (AP)
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, center. leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. (AP Photo/Chris Collingridge) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
In this Nov. 4, 2012 photo, South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp, believed to be his girlfriend, at an awards ceremony, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. (AP Photo/Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
File photo dated 08/09/12 of Oscar Pistorius after winning his gold medal at the Paralympic games in 2012. A woman has been found shot dead at his South African home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday September 8, 2012. See PA story POLICE Pistorius. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
Reality TV show Tropika Island of Treasure, featuring Reeva Steenkamp, was filmed last year (AP/Stimulii)
This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 on Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, shows the gated housing complex with the home of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been arrested in the shooting death of his girlfriend, police and the woman's talent agent said Thursday. (AP Photo/VNS24/7)
Barry Steenkamp sympathised that Oscar Pistorius hero must be 'going through a difficult time' after his daughter Reeva was shot dead (AP)

"The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder," he ruled.

"I have no doubt that in firing the fatal shots the accused must have foreseen that whoever was behind the toilet door might die, but reconciled with that event occurring, and gambled with that person’s life," he said.

The judge said in these circumstances, the identity of the victim was "irrelevant to his guilt".

Pistorius faces a possible 15-year jail sentence. However, the law allows for a lesser sentence to be imposed in exceptional circumstances.

The former athlete's family said in a statement that it had taken note of the judgment.

"The legal team will study the finding and we will be guided by them in terms of options going forward," the statement said.

He is currently living under house arrest at his uncle’s home in Pretoria, where he watched this morning's ruling. Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, sat quietly in the courtroom during the announcement.

The champion runner must now return to the Pretoria high court for a new sentence, expected to be in the new year.

Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner because of the distinctive prosthetics he uses for racing, is one of the world's best known Paralympic athletes.

A multiple Paralympic gold medal winner, he made history by becoming the first amputee athlete to take part in the Olympics in the London 2012 Games.

Blade runner Pistorius - his long battle to compete

Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner because of the distinctive prosthetics he uses for racing, is the world's best known Paralympic athletes.

He made history in London in 2012 when he became the first amputee athlete to take part in the Olympic Games.

The multiple Paralympic gold medal winner, who had to win a legal battle to line up alongside able-bodied athletes on his Ossur Flex-Foot Cheetah hi-tech "legs", raced in the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

Pistorius was born in Pretoria in 1986 without the fibula in both legs.

When he was aged 11 months, his parents make the decision to have his legs amputated below the knee.

His desire to compete was clear from an early age as he played rugby, water polo and tennis as a schoolboy.

In early 2004, aged 17, he turned to athletics after shattering his right knee playing rugby.

Wearing blades his impact was immediate - after two months training he set a new world record of 11.51 seconds in the 100m at an open competition at the Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria.

That September he won gold in the 200m at the Paralympic Games in Athens, setting a new world record of 21.97 seconds, plus a bronze in the 100m.

Pistorius had already set his sights on competing against able-bodied athletes. In 2005 he finished sixth in the open/able-bodied category 400m at the South African Open Championships.

The next few years saw more Paralympic medals, plus the 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason award, for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity.

But in January 2008 his hopes of taking part in the Beijing Olympics suffered a setback when the IAAF ruled that his prosthetic legs were ineligible for use in competitions conducted under its rules, including the Olympic Games.

He appealed and the Court of Arbitration for Sport reversed the ban the following May.

However, he failed to qualify for the South African Olympic team in the 400m, despite running a personal best of 46.25 seconds.

He later took part in the Beijing Paralympics, winning gold in the 100m, 200m and the 400m, setting a new world record in the 400m.

Four years later he was named in the South African team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

After getting to the semi-finals of the 400m individual event, he was part of the South Africa team which finished eighth in the 4x400m relay final.

He later carried his country's flag at the closing ceremony.

His performances in the Paralympic Games also created a media storm - for a different reason.

After finishing second in the final of the 200m T44 classification, losing a lengthy lead to Alan Oliveira, Pistorius raised issues with the length of his Brazilian rival's blades.

The following day he apologised for his outburst, saying "I would never want to detract from another athlete's moment of triumph."

Pistorius went on to add gold in the 400m and the 4x100m metres relay to his Paralympic tally.

Away from the track Pistorius was a motivational speaker and an ambassador for the Mineseeker Foundation, which raises money to clear minefields and helps people affected by landmines.

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