South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been given a five-year prison term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The sentencing by Judge Thokozile Masipa on Tuesday brings an end to high-profile seven months trial that has captured public attention in South Africa and beyond. Pistorius also got a three-year suspended sentence for a firearm charge.
The Parents of Steenkamp told reporters that they were happy with the sentence and relieved the case was over and that- at least- Pistorius will “pay something”.
Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide but cleared of murder. Prosecutors had called for a minimum 10-year in jail term, and the defence had argued for community service and house arrest, saying he would be vulnerable in prison.
The defence said it expected Pistorius to serve less than a year in prison, with the rest under house arrest.
Dup De Bruyn, a lawyer for the Steenkamp family, told Reuters that “justice was served”, although he believed Pistorius would probably serve two years.
Judge Masipa said she considered her sentence “fair and just, both to society and to the accused.”
“A non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community,” she said. “On the other hand, a long sentence would also not be appropriate either, as it would lack the element of mercy.”
She said nothing she could do or say could bring back Reeva Steenkamp, but “hopefully, this judgment on sentence shall provide some sort of closure for the family.”
The three-year suspended term was for unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant, in a separate incident before the Steenkamp killing- meaning the double amputee would then be prosecuted if found guilty of similar offence within the period.
Pistorius was immediately taken from the court in a police van to Pretoria’s Kgose Mampuru prison. It is understood the Olympic and Paralympics athlete will be evaluated over the next few hours to decide where he will stay based on his disability.
Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee told the BBC it would not allow Pistorius to run at any of its events for five years, even if he were released early.
Pistorius killed Miss Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
He says he had mistook her for a intruder in his house in Pretoria when he fire those shots.
Miss Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, reality TV star and law graduate, was hit three times by bullets fired by Pistorius through a toilet door.