Oscar Pistorius’s jail sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been increased from six years to 13 years and five months.
The former Paralympic sprinter has been handed down a new judgment by a South African court, which has seen his prison term more than double.
The sentence handed to former Pistorius for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was six years, given to him in 2016. But this new sentence of fifteen years – minus time that he has already served in jail – means that he won’t see freedom until around 2030.
Many will see this as justice for Reeva Steenkamp and her family, who believe that Pistorius was dealt with far too leniently due to his international fame at his first trial.
The 31-year-old was at first convicted of culpable homicide, meaning he was responsible for killing his girlfriend, but he didn’t actually intend to.
This was later upgraded to murder – meaning that he had every intention of killing Steenkamp – and he received a six-year jail term last year.
But prosecutors had argued that the even increasing the verdict to murder and handing down a six-year term for murdering Reeva Steenkamp was “shockingly light”, and that the taking of a human life deserved greater punishment.
It was based on these appeals that the former athlete’s case was dragged back to the South African Supreme Court of Appeal, where that sentence has been further lengthened to a total of 15 years. But because the sprinter has already spent time in jail, the actual term works out to to 13 years and five months.
Reading out the ruling, the judge said: “The sentence imposed… in respect of murder is set aside and substituted with the following: the respondent is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 13 years and five months.”
A spokesman for Steenkamp’s family said the ruling “verified there was justice”.
Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013 after shooting through a bathroom door four times with a high powered rifle. During his initial trial, Pistorius tried to claim that he thought there was an intruder in the house and he was defending his home.
The Paralympic gold medalist even did a flashy TV interview defending himself, saying in the television special: “‘All of a sudden I hear a noise, at the toilet. I presumed it was the toilet door opening and before I knew it, I’d fired four shots.”
With an excuse like that, is it really surprising that he was found guilty?
There was outrage across South Africa in 2014 when Pistorius was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide, but only served 10 months before he was released on house arrest.
Even though state prosecutors managed to get the sentence upgraded to murder, only one extra year was added to the former Paralympian’s jail time. They brought the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal because they argued Pistorius hadn’t shown any remorse for his crime.
Andrea Johnson, of the National Prosecution Authority, told the court: “One of the essential ingredients of a balanced sentence is that it must reflect the seriousness of the offence. Genuine remorse is missing – namely a reason from the respondent for firing the four fatal shots.”
She continued: “One cannot say his regret absolves him from the crime.”
Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door at his home in the South African capital Pretoria.
Previously, he had been a six-time Paralympic gold medallist, making history through becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics. He featured at the London games in 2012, and famously running on prosthetic “blades”, after his legs were amputated below the knee as a baby.
Less than six months after he competed, he shot his model girlfriend dead at his Pretoria home, which he stood trial for a year later, and was first sentenced a year after that.
There had been outcry at what seemed like a light sentence for the murder of Pistorius’ defenceless girlfriend. The 31-year-old wasn’t in court for the latest ruling.
What do you think of this sentence? Is it fair for murdering another human being? Or do you think there is more to this case than meets the eye?
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