Oscar Pistorius returns to court as sentencing starts

October 13, 2014, 11:32am

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for culpable homicide and three years suspended jail time for negligent firearm use.

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment for  culpable homicidein the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. 

Judge Thokozile Masipa also sentenced Pistorius to three years suspended imprisonment for discharging a firearm in public, to run concurrently with his sentence for culpable homicide.

Pistorius’s defence Advocate Barry Roux told the court that the athlete would willingly give up all his firearms and firearm licences and conceded to being unfit to carry a firearm. 

Masipa emphasised the balance in sentencing between an appropriate punishment that contributed positively to society’s trust in the justice system but which did not “break the accused”.

“There is a delicate balance between the crime, the criminal and the interests of society,” she said.

The Guardian reported that Pistorius’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, indicated that the family would not be appealing.

Pistorius is likely to serve his sentence at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria.

Community service ‘inappropriate’
Masipa rejected a suggested sentence of house arrest and community service for Pistorius.

“The sentence suggested by Mrs Vergeer and Mr Maringa would not be appropriate,” Masipa read while sentencing Pistorius for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp.

A suspended sentence imposed on Pistorius for shooting Steenkamp would not be appropriate, Masipa said.

“The present case is so serious that a suspended sentence would not be appropriate in my view,” she said. “I am of the view that a non custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community on the other hand a long sentence would not be appropriate as it would lack mercy.” 

She said a long prison sentence would “break” Pistorius but a suspended sentence could mean that society lose faith in society.

The five-year jail sentence handed down to Pistorius signalled a sad day for women in South Africa, the ANCWL said.

“We are saddened by the judgment… we have never been happy with the conviction of culpable homicide, instead of murder,” ANC Womens League spokesperson Jacqui Mofokeng said outside court. 

“We call for the national prosecutions to appeal this sentence… and do it for our society.” She said Pistorius could be out within 18 months. 

 

“If he serves 18 months he could be out soon after that, while Reeva is not here… women are saddened by this.” – 

Mail&Guardian

Day 5. Oscar Pistorius learns his fate after more than a year and a half after the death of Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home.

News24

Disability would be catered for in prison, court hears

Acting national commissioner for correctional services, Zach Modise, was called as the second witness for the state in the aggravation of sentencing.

Courtesy of Mail & Guardian 

Steenkamps not seeking revenge, court hears

Pretoria - Reeva Steenkamp's family are not seeking revenge against her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius but do want him to go to jail, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

"My family are not seeking revenge," Kim Martin, Steenkamp's cousin, said to questions from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

"We just feel that if you take someone's life, shoot behind a door, shoot an unarmed person... You need sufficient punishment."

She said she was initially afraid that prison would be bad for Pistorius but after the case understood that prisons did cater for people with disabilities.

Martin told the court that everyone had suffered in the case and that Pistorius should go to jail for what he had done to her family, his family and to Steenkamp.

"Everyone has suffered here. We need to send a message to society," Martin said.

"I don't think the suggested punishment will fit the crime."

Under cross-examination, Pistorius's lawyer, Barry Roux asked her if she would be against a prison term if the conditions would not be humane for a disabled person.

She replied that she would not want anyone to live under inhumane conditions.

Pistorius sentencing, day 4

 
Reeva Steenkamp's cousin continues to testify for the State as sentencing in Oscar Pistorius's trial continues. The athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide for Steenkamp's death.
Lauren Hess, News24

Oscar's trial - day 3 sentencing summary

On day 3 of sentencing arguments for the Oscar Pistorius's trial, we heard from Reeva Steenkamp's emotional cousin Kim Martin who described the devastating impact of Reeva's loss on the Steenkamp family.

 

Nel: How will house arrest deter other criminals?

Pretoria - A social worker struggled to explain to the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday how house arrest for Oscar Pistorius would deter other criminals.

"What in this particular matter must the court, in its sentence, deter others from?" prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Annette Vergeer, who is also a parole officer.

Nel was cross-examining her during sentencing proceedings for Pistorius, who was found guilty last month of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend.

"The fact that he used a firearm and that people are negligent with the use of a firearm," Vergeer replied.

"How can that be what you had in mind? The sentence should deter people from owning legal firearms?" Nel asked.

Correctional supervision

On Tuesday Vergeer presented her report on Pistorius, which the defence had paid her to compile, to the court. In it she recommended that the paralympic athlete get three years of correctional supervision and community service for killing Steenkamp.

She cited prison overcrowding, understaffing, and a lack of facilities for the disabled as the reasons for her recommendation.

"I'm not exactly sure what I should answer on," Vergeer replied on Wednesday, looking confused.

At one point Nel stood, his chin propped on his hand, as Vergeer rattled off a list that had nothing to do with what he wanted to know. She spoke of an offender's remorse, crime statistics, and the seriousness of the offence.

When she had finished, Nel said: "You haven't answered my question."

Nel finally asked her: "Should people be deterred from firing four shots through a locked door in the middle of the night?"

"In fact so, My Lady," said Vergeer.

Judge Thokozile Masipa last month found Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of Steenkamp, but not guilty of her murder. Pistorius had claimed he thought there was a burglar in his toilet when he fired four shots through the locked door in the early hours of 14 February last year, killing Steenkamp. The State had argued he killed her during an argument.

Masipa found Pistorius guilty of discharging a firearm in public, when he shot from his friend Darren Fresco's Glock pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, in January 2013.

Pistorius was found not guilty on two firearms-related charges -- illegal possession of ammunition, and shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein on 30 September 2012.

Day 3.Court must decide if Pistorius is "prison material" - expert

15 October, 

The Defence continues to make its argument that Pistorius is better off receiving a community based sentence as a prison sentence would be an inappropriate sentence.

 

Criminal law expert William Booth explains why Oscar Pistorius's defence has listed Pistorius's charity involvement. Booth says the court must decide if Pistorius is "prison material" or if he is better suited for community service.

News24

Oscar's trial - day 2 sentencing summary

14 October, 04:28 PM

 

 

Gerrie Nel was unrelenting in his cross-examination of the defence's social worker during day two of arguments for sentencing in the Pistorius trial.
In addition, it was revealed the Steenkamps have been receiving R6000 from Oscar Pistorius. The family confirmed via their lawyer today that the last payment was made last month and that the Steenkamps are now in a position to repay the money.

Oscar Pistorius returns to court as sentencing starts

Day 2, 14 October 2014 

Court resumes 

A prisons official on Monday recommended Pistorius clean a museum as punishment for shooting dead his girlfriend, sparking prosecution anger in the North Gauteng High Court.

Defence witness Joel Maringa, a social worker, said Pistorius should not go to prison, but receive "correctional supervision" through three years of house arrest. He should also clean a Pretoria museum for 16 hours a month, Maringa said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel described Maringa's suggestion as "shockingly inappropriate".

 

The "Blade Runner" could face up to 15 years in prison, or could dodge a jail term altogether with a non-custodial sentence.

Court adjourns. Nel promises he won't be much longer. They'll be back at 11:00.
News24

 

 

3. The runner appears much more composed, relaxed even today, compared to recent times. He's sitting on court desk making a telephone call, says Alex Crawford

Court to resume at 09:30, 14 October 2014

News24

2.Correctional officer recommends house arrest for Pistorius

Lauren Hess, News24

A correctional officer has recommended to the North Gauteng High Court that Oscar Pistorius serve house arrest as opposed to jail time.

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has returned to court for sentencing after being convicted of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius was found guilty of the culpable homicide of Ms Steenkamp last month but he was cleared of murder.

His psychologist was the first defence witness to speak at the sentencing hearing, which could last several days.

Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, although Judge Thokozile Masipa may suspend the sentence or impose a fine.

She said the athlete had acted "negligently" when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door, but in the "belief that there was an intruder".

The Paralympic sprinter had strenuously denied murdering Ms Steenkamp after a row on Valentine's Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake.

Ms Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, was hit three times by bullets shot through a toilet door by Pistorius at his home in the capital, Pretoria.

Pistorius' personal psychologist Lore Hartzenberg told the courtroom on Monday that Pistorius was "very emotional" during grief therapy sessions, which were often disrupted by his weeping and crying.

She said the athlete felt "vilified and humiliated" by the media and social media networks, making him feel "utterly worthless".

Judge Masipa is to hear legal arguments and testimony from a number of witnesses before passing sentence.

line

Analysis by Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent, Pretoria

There is a very real chance - backed up by precedent - that Pistorius could be given no jail time at all.

The judge could argue that he is a first-time offender who has shown genuine remorse. But given his criminal misuse of a firearm, what sort of message would that send to the public?

And - this is unanswerable, I suppose - would it even be in his own best interests to serve no prison time?

Would the public here and abroad welcome him back into society, and what sort of stress would he find himself under?

Having given Pistorius the benefit of the doubt in reaching her verdict - and taken plenty of flak for it - Judge Masipa may choose to lean the other way in sentencing.

Pistorius sentence: Jail or Olympic training?

The judge said the state had failed to prove he intended to kill.

The athlete, who has been on bail since the verdict, was also found guilty on a charge of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant.

He was acquitted of another charge of firing a gun in public, through the sunroof of a car, and of illegal possession of ammunition in the home where he killed Ms Steenkamp.

'Disbelief'

The parents of Ms Steenkamp said "justice was not served" after Pistorius was acquitted of murder.

June and Barry Steenkamp told NBC News of their "disbelief" that the court had believed Pistorius' version of events.

Earlier, Arnold Pistorius, the athlete's uncle, said the family was "deeply grateful" to the judge for finding him not guilty of murder and that a "big burden" had been lifted.

South Africa's prosecuting authority said it was "disappointed" that Pistorius was not convicted of murder but said it would wait until after sentencing to decide whether to appeal.

Despite the conviction, the International Paralympic Committee has said Pistorius would be allowed to compete in future events.

Director of media and communications Craig Spence told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Oscar's done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He's been an inspiration to millions, but obviously his priority now is to see what the judge decides.

"If he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn't step in his way. We would allow him to compete again in the future."

Courtesy of BBC News Africa