Former Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison on Tuesday for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend last February. Pistorius’ defense team told the press that he would likely serve 10 months, or one-sixth of the term handed down by Judge Thokozile Masipa, before being released to serve the remaining time under house arrest. However, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said that the man once known as “The Blade Runner” would likely serve 20 months behind bars, before stating that such matters were “not for the NPA to decide.”
Judge Masipa based the sentence on what she called the “gross negligence” of Pistorius, who shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home early on the morning of Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius had testified that the shooting was an accident because he mistook his girlfriend for a nighttime intruder. “Having regard to the circumstances in the matter, I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community,” Masipa said. “On the other hand, a long sentence would also not be appropriate either, as it would lack the element of mercy.”
“What may appear to be justice to the general public may not be justice. Society cannot always get what they want.” Pistorius’ lawyers had argued for a three-year period of correctional supervision, where the runner would have been under house arrest. Prosecutors asked the judge to send him to prison for at least 10 years.
Pistorius stood as the judge announced his sentence, and then left the courtroom and walked down a flight of stairs leading to holding cells. His sentence starts immediately. A Pistorius supporter laid three white roses near Pistorius. “I just wanted to bestow a little bit of inner happiness on Oscar,” said the supporter.