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Oscar Pistorius sentenced to six years for Reeva Steenkamp murder

By Jonny Bell

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Pistorius stood and faced Judge Thokozile Masipa as she announced the sentence in a Pretoria courtroom.

He was facing a possible 15-year jail term for shooting Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door at his home in 2013, but Judge Masipa said substantial and compelling circumstances existed to give him a lesser sentence.

Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, were in the courtroom, which was packed with relatives of both Pistorius and Steenkamp and other observers.

In reading out the sentence, Judge Masipa said Pistorius was a "fallen hero".

The judge ordered a recess to give prosecutors and Pistorius's defence lawyers time to decide if either wanted to appeal against the sentence.

Pistorius was initially sentenced to five years in prison - and served one year before being moved to house arrest - after being found guilty in 2014 of manslaughter for Reeva Steenkamp's 2013 killing.

That ruling was overturned by South Africa's Supreme Court last year, and Pistorius was convicted of murder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, the judge who initially acquitted Pistorius of murder at his trial, is presided over the sentencing hearings.

Prosecutors had depicted Pistorius as an arrogant figure with a sense of entitlement and a love of guns.

Dressed in a dark suit, Pistorius sat calmly on a bench during the testimony, mostly with his head down.

Mr Barry and June Steenkamp, the parents of the model Pistorius killed by shooting multiple times through a toilet door in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013, were also present in court for the sentencing.

More: Oscar Pistorius: From blade running golden boy of athletics to murderer

During the hearings a clinical psychologist described Pistorius as a "broken man" whose mental state has deteriorated over the last two years and he should be hospitalised and not jailed

In his testimony, Prof Jonathan Scholtz described Pistorius as despondent and forgetful, and said further imprisonment for the convicted murderer would not be "psychologically or socially constructive".

Instead, Prof Scholtz recommended that Pistorius use his skills and past experience in charity to give back to society by helping disadvantaged and disabled people, particularly youths.

He noted that Pistorius had sold his firearms, became jumpy even at the sound of gunfire on television, and was unlikely to resort to violence again.

He also said Pistorius was subjected to several "traumatic and humiliating experiences" during the year he spent in prison, including being forced to shower while sitting on the concrete floor because of his disability.

Pistorius spent 18 hours a day in solitary confinement while in prison, Prof Scholtz said, and was treated "like an animal in a cage".

Prosecutor Nel challenged Prof Scholtz on some of those claims surrounding Pistorius' imprisonment.

 

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