In Brief

Oscar Pistorius out of legal options as request to appeal rejected

Former star athlete loses bid to cut 13-year jail term for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has come to the "end of the road" in his lengthy legal battle over his conviction for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

The former Paralympian had asked South Africa’s highest court to review his 13-year jail term, after it was increased in November from a total of six years, reports South Africa’s News 24.

But the Constitutional Court’s ruling, released yesterday, was that the leave to appeal “should be dismissed as it does not engage this court’s jurisdiction”.

A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said: “This is the end of the road. There are no other legal options available.”

Pistorius, 31, has always maintained that he did not mean to kill girlfriend Steenkamp, who was shot dead when he fired four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013. He claims to have believed she was an intruder.

It was a dramatic fall from grace for the athlete, who in 2012 became the first double-amputee to race at the Olympics.

Responding to the latest ruling, Gerrie Nel‚ the prosecutor in the original case, said: “Justice has been done. I’m just glad that this is over.”

A spokeswoman for Steenkamp’s family said they had "always had faith in the justice system".

24 November 2017

Oscar Pistorius prison sentence more than doubled by South African court

Oscar Pistorius’s murder sentence has been extended to 13 years and five months by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal after the state argued that his original six-year term was “shockingly lenient”.

Justice Legoabe Willie Seriti said Pistorius should be sentenced to the country's minimum 15-year sentence for murder, but subtracted the time that the former Paralympian sprinter has already served in prison and at home under house arrest.

A spokesperson for Steenkamp's family said the latest ruling “has verified there is justice”.

Pistorius - who was not in court for today's ruling - shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was initially given a five-year term for manslaughter in 2014, but was found guilty of murder on appeal a year later and sentenced to six years.

Pistorius claims that on the morning of shooting, he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in his bathroom at his home in Pretoria. The double-amputee, who was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time of the killing, shot Steenkamp four times through the cubicle door.

Prosecutors argued that the athlete’s disability had been “overemphasised” and that his former six-year sentence was far too lenient.

“Murder is murder,” chief prosecutor Andrea Johnson told a five-judge panel.

3 October 2017

Trailer for Oscar Pistorius movie criticised by Steenkamp family

The story of the rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius is to be made into a US film.

The project has been criticised by the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he was convicted of murdering in 2016.

In the first trailer for Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer the TV movie shows the athlete shooting her after an argument.

“Prove to me this is what you want, that you are worthy of me and this relationship,” he says, as he grabs a cricket bat.

The film stars Andreas Damm as Pistorius and Toni Garrn as Steenkamp.

Reeva’s parents, June and Barry Steenkamp said they were “horrified and upset” at reports that the film claimed to tell the story of the 2013 killing from the perspective of their family.

The Steenkamps stressed they had not collaborated in the project or known anything about it being made, and said they were still in mourning for their daughter.

“Any impression that is created that this is June's view, or that the movie is endorsed by the Steenkamp family, is untrue and incorrect,” they said in a statement.

Reaction in South Africa to the trailer has been decidedly mixed, with one person on Twitter saying it showed “disrespect to Reeva’s family.”

The Lifetime movie will tell the full story leading up to the fatal Valentine’s Day event, including the relationship between Pistorius and Steenkamp, as well as the courtroom trials that followed.

3 April 2017

Oscar Pistorius: From Paralympic hero to murder conviction

Four years have passed since Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home in Pretoria, South Africa, starting his descent from sporting hero to murder convict.

The former athlete was the poster boy of the Paralympics. He was born without fibula bones in his lower legs and had them both amputated below the knee before he turned one. However, by the age of 17 he was winning his first Paralympic gold at the 2004 Games in Athens and went on to win five more in Beijing and London.

He made history in 2012 as the first amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics - but everything changed the following year.

Here's how events unfurled from that date.

14 February 2013: Pistorius is arrested at his home in Pretoria on suspicion of murdering Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, law graduate and domestic violence campaigner. Early reports relay details of "Oscar's bloody Valentine", during which he fired four shots through his closed bathroom door, killing Steenkamp, who was inside. The athlete claims he mistakenly believed his girlfriend of three months to be an intruder.

15 February 2013: Pistorius bursts into tears at Pretoria Magistrate's Court when the charge of premeditated murder is read out.

19 February 2013: Steenkamp's friends and family gather for her funeral in Port Elizabeth. Her brother Adam, delivering the eulogy, tells the congregation: "There's a space missing inside all of the people that she knew that can't be filled again."

22 February 2013: Pistorius is granted bail of one million rand (£58,700) under conditions that he surrenders his passport and any weapons. The travel restrictions are later eased, allowing him to compete outside South Africa, although he never does.

3 March 2014: The trial begins and swiftly becomes one of the most sensational of the 21st century. Prosecutor Gerrie "Bulldog" Nel and defence lawyer Barry Roux grill witnesses and spar in front of Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Witnesses include neighbours who heard the sound of gunshots, as well as police, forensics experts, psychiatrists and one of Pistorius's ex-girlfriends.

The Paralympian cries and retches into a bucket during his own testimony. He also, at one point, removes his prosthetic legs as the defence attempts to show how vulnerable he felt when he reached for his gun.

Steenkamp's father Barry gives an emotional testimony, telling the court he has forgiven his daughter's killer but wants him to "pay" for what he had done. "What happened devastated us. I wouldn't wish that on anybody in the world," he says.

12 September 2014: Judge Masipa finds Pistorius not guilty of murder, but convicts him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter under UK law, saying he had acted "negligently" in firing the shots but had believed "that there was an intruder".

21 October 2014: Sentenced to five years in prison, as well as a three-year suspended sentence for a separate firearms charge, Pistorius is taken to Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria. Prosecutors later announce they will appeal the verdict.

19 October 2015: A little less than 12 months into his five-year sentence, Pistorius is released on parole and confined to his uncle's home in Pretoria under house arrest.

3 November 2015: Prosecutors tell the Supreme Court of Appeal that Pistorius should be charged with murder, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least 15 years.

3 December 2015: Pistorius's original conviction is overturned and he is found guilty of murder. The five-judge panel says at the appeal court say Masipa made "fundamental errors" in her application of the law and Pistorius "must have foreseen the potentially fatal consequences of his actions", even if he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

6 July 2016: Masipa sentences Pistorius to six years imprisonment, saying there were "substantial and compelling circumstances" to reduce the usual 15-year minimum term for murder. She adds that the court has a duty to correct the continuing misconception that he intentionally killed Steenkamp. The athlete returns to jail.


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