South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered the sentence stating that “a non-custodial sentence would send a wrong message to the community.”
Pistorius, who was also given a suspended three-year sentence for an unrelated firearms charge, was in tears after the judge handed down the sentence at the courtroom in Pretoria. After the decision, Pistorius is reportedly being taken to the Kgosi Mampuru II prison, formerly known as Pretoria Central Prison. The sentencing came more than a month after the 27-year-old athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide over the 2013 Valentine’s Day shooting of his girlfriend.
According to The Guardian, Pistorius’s defense team, led by lawyer Barry Roux, expects that the double-amputee will have to spend 10 months in jail before being considered for house arrest. Pistorius’ defense team had requested the judge, during the five-day long sentencing procedure last week, to allow the disgraced athlete to serve out his sentence in house arrest.
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who had demanded a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, said, after the judge's decision Tuesday, that “the court has done what the court should do.” Under South African law, a charge of culpable homicide carries with it a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Barry Steenkamp, the father of the deceased model, reportedly told journalists outside the courtroom that he was “very satisfied” with the sentencing.
Arnold Pistorius, the Olympian's uncle with whom he had been living since the death of Steenkamp, reportedly indicated that the family expected him to go to jail. He reportedly said “no” when asked by reporters if the family would appeal the sentence. According to the Guardian, the Pistorius family will hold a press conference later Tuesday.
Last month, Pistorius was acquitted of a more serious charge of premeditated murder and was found not guilty of a charge of illegal possession of ammunition, as well as another count of discharging a firearm in public in a separate incident.
Defense lawyer Roux reportedly said in court Tuesday that Pistorius will hand over his guns and his certificates to the state as he did not intend to keep them with him anymore.