LONDON — Oscar Pistorius, the South African track athlete was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for the culpable homicide, or manslaughter, of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Before the shooting, Pistorius was seen as an athletic icon and an inspiration after becoming the first Paralympian to compete in athletics at the Olympics, in 2012. He previously bagged six gold medals and eight medals overall at the Paralympics dating back to 2004.
According to media report, Judge Thokozile Masipa rules Pistorius must be jailed for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, but could be released on house arrest after 10 months.
Pistorius was given a three-year suspended sentence for contravening the firearms control act by firing a pistol in a busy restaurant, to run concurrently. This will be suspended for five years “on condition that within the period of suspension the accused is not found guilty of a crime where there is negligence involving the use of a firearm”.
South African legal experts said earlier that Mr. Pistorius could seek parole after serving half of his term. Ms. Steenkamp’s family said it was “satisfied” with the ruling, although the National Prosecuting Authority said it had not yet decided whether to appeal.
After the court adjourned, Pistorius was escorted to the holding cells. The Steenkamp family’s lawyer told reporters that “justice was served today” adding that the five-year term was “the right sentence”.
It is a controversial trial that makes a spectacular fall from grace of one of the world’s most renowned athletes: a double-amputee who earned a superstar status in South Africa and beyond after competing against able-bodied track stars in the 2012 London Olympics.
During the sentencing process last week, Pistorius’s defence described the 27-year-old as a broken man.
“He was an icon for what he has achieved. He’s lost everything. He lost all his sponsors. He lost all his money,” Barry Roux, defence lawyer, told the court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital. “He has nothing. There is nothing left of this man.”