FIVE YEARS in prison for Oscar Pistorius: Disgraced athlete sent to hell-hole South African jail for killing his lover Reeva Steenkamp
- Paralympian led down to the cells after dramatic verdict is handed down
- Athlete jailed for five years – but could spend as little as 10 months in prison
- He can apply for release under house arrest after just one-sixth of sentence
- Steenkamp’s mother June said sentence ‘would not magic Reeva back’
- Judge says non-custodial term would send ‘wrong message to community’
- Sprinter banned from Paralympics even if released early, say organisers
- Runner was found guilty of manslaughter after shooting model through door
- Prosecutors demanded at least ten years in prison for the double-amputee
- His defence argued for three years of house arrest with community service
Oscar Pistorius was dramatically jailed for five years today for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp – but could spend as little as ten months behind bars. The disgraced Paralympian wiped his eyes as he was handed a five-year prison term after the judge ruled that a non-custodial sentence would send the ‘wrong message to the community’. As he was led down to the cells, Miss Steenkamp’s mother, June, smiled as she told of a sense of ‘closure’ after a seventh-month trial, but said it ‘would not magic Reeva back.’ The model’s ailing father, who suffered a stroke after his daughter’s death, said he was ‘very glad’ the trial was over. A lawyer for the family said the sentence was ‘welcome’. The runner’s sister Aimee briefly covered her head with a jacket and looked distressed. His family said he would not appeal the sentence. Pistorius was later driven away from court in a prison van to the gang-ridden Pretoria Central Prison, where one criminal kingpin has already threatened to ‘take him out’. The athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide, but was acquitted of murder after shooting Miss Steenkamp four times through a toilet cubicle door at his home last year. According to legal observers, Pistorius could spend only ten months in jail and, provided he poses no trouble to the prison authorities, could spend the remainder of his sentence under correctional supervision at home.
According to the Act under which Pistorius was sentenced, he must spend at least one-sixth of his sentence before he can apply for leave to serve the rest under ‘correctional supervision’. The athlete appeared to have prepared himself to spend some time behind bars, while his uncle Arnold Pistorius, the head of the large family, said there would be no appeal against the sentence. National Prosecuting Authority, who have two weeks to decide whether to appeal against verdict or sentence, suggested they would be content to draw a line under the matter. ‘We have stated that we were disappointed with the judgment but we take solace in fact that Pistorius will serve time in jail.’ After a summary of the evidence in the case and related legal issues, judge Thozile Masipa said: ‘Having regard to the circumstances of the matter, 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 also not be appropriate either as it would lack the element of mercy.’ She also said it would be a ‘sad day’ for South Africa if there was a perception that it had one law for the rich and another for the poor. Asking Pistorius to stand, she said: ‘The following… is what I consider to be a sentence that is fair and just, both to society and to the accused.’ Earlier, she described Miss Steenkamp as ‘vivacious and full of life’.
The court heard her parents June and Barry in particular were ‘not coping very well without their daughter’. Judge Masipa said: ‘The loss of life cannot be reversed. Nothing I say or do today can reverse what happened on February 14 2013 to the deceased and to her family. ‘Hopefully, this judgment on sentence shall provide some sort of closure for the family and all concerned so that they can move on with their lives.’ Judge Masipa also sentenced Pistorius to three years in prison for unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant in a separate incident weeks before Miss Steenkamp’s death. She ordered that sentence to be wholly suspended. After Pistorius was asked to stand by Judge Masipa, he quickly removed his designer watch from his wrist and held it behind his back as she told him he was going to jail. He passed the watch to his uncle as he descended into the bowels of the court to the holding cells. Pistorius had every reason to not want to take the timepiece into the notorious prison. During his murder trial the court had heard how a watch worth £6,000 had been stolen from a display case holding eight designer watches in the athlete’s bedroom, even as crime scene officers were gathering blood spatter and other forensic evidence nearby. The theft prompted every officer at the scene to be frisked and have their bags and vehicles to be searched when they left Pistorius’ property. The watch was never recovered. While his uncle Arnold used a press conference to lambast prosecutors for ever charging him with premeditated murder, Pistorius was driven to jail in an armoured police van, with tactical response guards hanging on. He arrived at Pretoria Central prison, a little over a mile from the court, within minutes, driven in through a side entrance.
Visiting days at the prison are weekends and public holidays./Last year, the notorious facility was re-named the Kgosi Mampuru II – a traditional chief who was hanged at the prison in 1883 after being wrongly accused of murder. After the sentencing, Miss Steenkamp’s sister, Simone Cowburn, told MailOnline that no amount of punishment for Pistorius would repair the pain and loss of her parents and half-brother. ‘Watching what my parents have gone through has been very hard. It has destroyed my family. It will never be the same again.’ She said she believed the Blade Runner would receive ‘special treatment in prison because of his money and power.’ Ms Cowburn, 49, said she would never accept the defence put forward by Pistorius that he did not know it was Reeva in the toilet when he opened fire. ‘He had no right to shoot through that door with those bullets. You wouldn’t even shoot an animal with those bullets.’ She and her mother June are working to set up a refuge for battered women in South Africa and say they will continue campaigning against domestic violence.
Family support: Carl Pistorius tweets a comment made his uncle Arnold who attacked prosecutors for ever charging the athlete with premeditated murder Sisters Gina and Kim Myers, who lived with Miss Steenkamp in Johannesburg said nothing would bring the model back no matter how harsh the sentence. Gina Myers told MailOnline: ‘Today is about justice. We believe that today is just one step closer to healing for the family and friends and for the rest of the world.’ Kim Myers added: ‘Nothing is ever going to completely heal everybody. It is just one step closer.’ Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Miss Steenkamp for a dangerous night-time intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he opened fire with his 9mm pistol. Judge Masipa last month ruled that Pistorius did not intend to kill Miss Steenkamp, but he acted negligently and with excessive force in the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing. Prosecutors had demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete. His defense lawyers argued that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate.
She also said it would be a ‘sad day’ for South Africa if there was a perception that it had one law for the rich and another for the poor. She added: ‘Nothing I do or say can reverse what happened to the deceased or her family.’ Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Miss Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he shot four times through the door with his 9mm pistol. Judge Masipa last month ruled that Pistorius did not intend to kill Miss Steenkamp, but he acted negligently and with excessive force in the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing. He was also convicted of unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant weeks before Steenkamp’s death. That normally carries a fine for a first offense, but has a maximum of five years in prison.
Prosecutors demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete. His defence lawyers argued that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate. Pistorius was escorted through crowds of onlookers and into the courthouse by police officers wearing blue berets. The parents of Miss Steenkamp, the woman he shot multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home on February 14 last year were also in court to hear the sentence. The courtroom was packed, reflecting heightened media and public interest ahead of the sentencing.
Police officers stood guard in the aisles. Before proceedings started, Dr Lore Hartzenberg, a psychologist, held Pistorius’s hand and spoke softly to him. He had given evidence for the defence that Pistorius was a ‘broken man’ after killing his girlfriend and had suffered emotionally and financially. A Pistorius supporter laid three white roses near the athlete. ‘I just wanted to bestow a little bit of inner happiness on Oscar,’ said the supporter, who added that she thought he had lost a lot of self-respect. Outside the courthouse, a man in orange clothing carried chains and a large sign that read: ‘Are certain offenders more equal than other offenders before the law?’ Masipa has a wide range of options available to her at the climax of the trial because there is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide. Pistorius, 27, could serve no jail time, and possibly consider returning to the career that made him one of the world’s most recognizable runners on his carbon-fibre running blades, and the first amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics in 2012. He could be placed under house arrest, or he could be sent to prison for up to 15 years, almost certainly ending his running days. Pistorius’s brother and sister, Carl and Aimee, gave interviews to a South African television station on the eve of the sentencing, describing what they said was a difficult and emotional time in the more than a year-and-a-half since their brother killed Miss Steenkamp.
‘It has been a long journey to this point,’ Aimee Pistorius told eNCA. ‘A very taxing one. It is difficult to support someone through something like this – all the guilt and ridicule and obviously the exposure that has come with it.’ Carl Pistorius said: ‘Tomorrow will be very difficult. This is a weight we all have to carry.’ During his sentencing hearing last week, Pistorius’s chief defence lawyer called social workers and a psychologist who testified that the athlete had suffered significantly already, both emotionally and financially. ‘He’s not only broke, but he’s broken,’ chief defence lawyer Barry Roux said of Pistorius. ‘There is nothing left of this man.’ Pistorius’s defense team also argued that South African prisons cannot cater for his disability and he would be vulnerable. Roux even cited an alleged threat against Pistorius by a reputed prison gang leader.
ULTRA-HIGH SECURITY WING AWAITS PISTORIUS IF HE IS JAILED – ALONGSIDE NOTORIOUS CZECH INMATE ON TRIAL FOR TORTURE
At last week’s sentencing hearing, Pistorius’s legal team called for the Paralympian to be spared jail and placed under house arrest citing fears for his safety from violence and disease. Defense counsel Barry Roux quoted from a newspaper interview with a gang leader who had threatened to order a hit on Pistorius if he is given special treatment in prison. With prison authorities under acute pressure to guarantee the fallen track star’s safety, a meeting of senior correctional services officials met on Friday to draw up plans to keep him safe.
According to South African news agency EWN, a cell has been set aside for Pistorius in a wing of just six cells at Pretoria Central prison, which is guarded by a special task force and where Radovan Krejcir (right) is being held. Security at the wing is second only to the notorious ‘C Max’ wing – where the most dangerous inmates are held. Prison life in South Africa is characterized by an elaborate system of gangs, through which much prisoner-on-prisoner violence is mediated, a report by a human rights group has found. While gang activity is common to many prison systems, South African prison gangs are distinctive. Most importantly, they have a national organization. As such, a gang member who is transferred from one prison to another, or even released and re-imprisoned, will keep his membership and gang rank in the new prison. The three predominant gangs operating in South Africa’s prisons today are the 28s, 27s and 26s, known collectively as the ‘number gangs’.
The trial of Krejcir is one of the most high profile and high security South Africa has ever seen. The fugitive arrived in South Africa on a fake passport and since then a number of his business rivals and associates have died in mysterious circumstances, including German super car conversion specialist Uwe Gemballa and the owner of a string of strip clubs, ‘Lolly’ Jackson. The special arrangements come after Pistorius’s legal team told the court their client faces threats from a ruthless prison gang leader is he is given preferential treatment in jail. Khalil Subjee – known as The General – said he would order ‘a hit’ on the double-amputee if his fame and wealth bought him an easy time behind bars. Defense lawyer Barry Roux quoted the claims from a newspaper article to argue that the athlete’s life would be at risk if he was jailed for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors insist Pistorius must go to prison because of what they called the ‘horrific’ nature of Steenkamp’s death. The 29-year-old model was hit in the head, arm and hip with hollow-point bullets fired by Pistorius. Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that the defence’s suggestion of house arrest and 16 hours of community service a month was a ‘shockingly inappropriate’ sentence. Recent sentences for culpable homicide in South Africa have been cited by analysts of Pistorius’s case. A singer known as Jub Jub had his murder conviction overturned and replaced with a culpable homicide conviction after a 2010 drag race, when he and another man ploughed their cars into a group of schoolchildren on a road, killing four and seriously injuring two. The singer was sentenced to eight years in prison for culpable homicide. In 2011, a South African rugby player convicted of culpable homicide for the beating death of a policeman on a Pretoria road was given a five-year suspended prison sentence. He served no jail time and paid the victim’s family $85,000 in compensation. On Monday, correctional services authorities denied media reports by a radio network that they were already preparing a cell for Pistorius in a high-security section of Pretoria Central Prison ahead of the announcement of his sentence.
‘BLOOD-CURDLING’ SCREAMS, TRAILS OF BLOOD AND VOMITING ON THE STAND: A TIMELINE OF ONE OF THE MOST DRAMATIC TRIALS IN HISTORY
March 3 – Oscar Pistorius pleads not guilty in court to murder and three gun charges. Later, neighbor Michelle Burger, the first witness called by the prosecution, tells the court she heard ‘blood-curdling’ screams before the sound of four gunshots on the night the Olympian killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
March 5 – Prosecutor Gerrie Nel says neighbour Charl Johnson received texts and calls after his telephone number was read out in court the previous day.
He described one voicemail message as saying: ‘Why are you lying in court? You know Oscar didn’t kill Reeva. It’s not cool.’
March 10 – Pistorius vomits repeatedly in the dock as he hears graphic details of the injuries sustained by the girlfriend he fatally shot.
March 11 – A witness describes how a ‘furious’ Pistorius fired a gun out of a car sunroof after being pulled over by police for speeding.
March 12 – Part of the crime scene is reconstructed in court as a forensic analyst demonstrates how Pistorius may have bashed a cricket bat on the door of his toilet to get to the girlfriend he had just fatally shot.
March 13 – Photographs of Pistorius’s bloodstained prosthetics, the alleged murder weapon and of the crime scene are shown.
March 17 – The manager of a South African gun training academy says the athlete had ‘a great love and enthusiasm’ for firearms.
March 19 – A police ballistics expert claims Ms Steenkamp was standing in a toilet cubicle and facing the closed door when she was hit in the right hip by the first of four bullets fired by Pistorius.
March 24 – Text messages between Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp are read to the court.
In them she states she was sometimes scared of him and complained about what she described as his short temper and jealousy in the weeks before he killed her.
March 25 – The following day, defence lawyer Barry Roux notes that the messages were a tiny fraction of roughly 1,700 that police Captain Francois Moller, a mobile phone expert, extracted from the couples’ devices.
Later that day, and in a rare comment, Pistorius says he is going through ‘a tough time’ as the prosecution case closes
March 28 – Judge Masipa delays proceedings until April 7 due to illness.
April 7 – The defense case opens. In a break from tradition, owing to illness, a pathologist is called as its first witness rather than the defendant.
When he takes to the stand later, an emotional Pistorius begins with an apology to Ms Steenkamp’s family.
He says: ‘There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family.’
April 8 – Pistorius breaks down in tears and howls while describing how he shot girlfriend Ms Steenkamp, forcing the court to adjourn.
April 9 – Giving evidence for a third day, Pistorius tells how his girlfriend ‘died while I was holding her’, describing how he put his fingers in her mouth to try to help her breathe and put his hand on her hip to try to stop bleeding from one of several gunshot wounds.
April 9 – Mr Nel begins cross-examination, showing a photograph of Ms Steenkamp’s bloodied head. He tells the defendant: ‘It’s time that you look at it.’
April 11 – Pistorius’s first week giving evidence ends with a dramatic exchange between Pistorius and Mr Nel about the moments before the shots were fired.
April 14 – There is another adjournment in court as the Olympian breaks down again while giving evidence.
April 15 – Re-examined by his own counsel, Pistorius recalls how he was ‘terrified’ that the person in the bathroom was an intruder.
‘I feared for my life. I was just scared,’ he says. ‘I was thinking about what could happen to me, to Reeva. I was just extremely fearful.’
April 16 – Judge Masipa announces the trial will adjourn until May 5, following a request for a break from Mr Nel.
May 5 – Upon resumption, Pistorius’s neighbor, Johan Stander, describes how he received an urgent call to help following the incident.
He says: ‘He (Pistorius) said on the call, ‘Johan, please, please, please come to my house. Please. I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder. Please come quick’.
May 8 – A social worker who visited Pistorius in the aftermath of the killing describes the murder suspect as ‘heartbroken’.
Yvette van Schalkwyk, who says she decided to give evidence at the trial because she was upset by suggestions reported in the media that Pistorius was feigning grief to sway the judge in his favour, adds: ‘He cried 80% of the time. ‘He talked to me about what they planned for the future, his future with her.’
May 9 – A ballistics expert says his analysis of the scene where the Olympic athlete shot Ms Steenkamp differs from the reconstruction of the shooting by police investigators.
May 12 – Mr Nel says the athlete should be placed under psychiatric observation after an expert called by the defence said Pistorius has an anxiety disorder.
May 14 – The much-delayed trial receives another set back, as the judge orders the athlete to undergo psychiatric tests.
The case is delayed until until June 30 while he is observed as an outpatient at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital.
May 26 – Pistorius arrives at the hospital for the first day of psychiatric tests.
June 30 – After a month-long break, the murder trial resumes when mental health experts state Pistorius was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed girlfriend Ms Steenkamp.
July 2 – Mr Roux reads a psychologist’s report which concludes Pistorius is severely traumatised and will become an increasing suicide risk unless he continues to get mental health care.
July 7 – Mr Nel challenges the credibility of a doctor who testifies that the athlete has an anxious nature linked to his disability.
July 8 – The defence team closes its case and the trial is adjourned.
August 7 – After a lengthy adjournment, closing arguments begin.
September 11 – The announcement of the court’s verdict – arrived at unanimously by the judge and her two assessors gets under way.
Judge Masipa describes Pistorius as a ‘very poor witness’ but says the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of either premeditated murder or common murder.
September 12 – Judge Masipa finds Pistorius not guilty of murder but guilty of the culpable homicide of Steenkamp and guilty of reckless endangerment with a firearm at a restaurant in a separate incident.
He was found not guilty of the charges relating to discharging a firearm through the sunroof of a car and illegal possession of ammunition. Judge Masipa adjourned the trial until October for sentencing and granted Pistorius a bail extension.
SPRINTER WILL BE BANNED FROM PARALYMPICS EVEN HE IS LET OUT OF JAIL EARLY, SAY ORGANISERS
Oscar Pistorius will not be allowed to run in the Paralympics for the whole of his five-year jail term – even if he is released early under house arrest, the organizers said today. International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence: ‘He will not be able to compete for five years. ‘For us he would have to serve the whole term even if he was released early.’ The South African, who was amputated below the knee at the age of 11 months, has won sprint gold medals at three Paralympic Games as well as competed in the 2012 London Olympics. He became known as ‘Blade Runner’ because of his speed using carbon fiber blades. The next Paralympics are in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but the organisers said Pistorius could only consider competing if his sentence was reduced on appeal.