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

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".

"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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