Oscar Pistorius trial: Judge Masipa sets verdict date for 11 September

Defence and prosecution end their closing arguments as verdict date is announced

Oscar Pistorius will find out his fate on 11 September, bringing to an end a court case that has dominated headlines around the world since his arrest on Valentine's Day last year over the shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Judge Thokozile Masipa confirmed the date after the prosecution and defence teams wrapped up their final arguments in the murder case against the athlete, which could see him spending the next 25 years in prison.

Oscar Pistorius trial live

Soon after the announcement was made, the athlete tweeted: "Thank you to my loved ones and those that have been there for me, who have picked me up and helped me through everything."

In a final effort to prove Pistorius' innocence, defence counsel Barry Roux told the court the athlete had "built up" an exaggerated fear of crime and snapped the same way a victim of domestic violence would have done after years of abuse the night he shot Ms Steenkamp.

"You have the effect of the slow burn of insecurities over many years. You're an athlete. You're trained to react to a sound, and he stands there now with his finger ready to fire, and then..." Mr Roux told the court, slapping his hand on the desk to mimic the sound of what Pistorius claimed was an intruder.

Mr Roux also argued the athlete felt exposed because did not have his prosthetic legs on and fired responding to a "primal instinct" to protect himself, adding: "You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react. Take all those factors into account".

Throughout the trial, the defence has painted a picture of vulnerable man marked by tragedy after undergoing a double amputation as a child and losing his mother at a young age. Far from enjoying his status as South Africa's national hero, the defence argues Pistorius has struggled to deal with his disability in the privacy of his home.

Mr Roux also called into question the handling of the crime scene, which Pistorius claims was contaminated, and accused investigator Hilton Botha, who was first put in charge of the case, but was ultimately dropped from the investigation after being charged with attempted murder, of telling "blatant lies" to incriminate his client.

Yesterday, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of being a "deceitful and appalling witness" and claimed he had consistently tailored his version of events. He also called for his testimony, in which the athlete insisted that he fired accidentally, departing from his original claim that he fired in self-defence to protect himself from an intruder, to be rejected by the court.

The prosecution's case is that an enraged Pistorius grabbed his gun and intentionally shot Ms Steenkamp through a locked toilet door with intention to kill, knowing full well she was inside, following a heated argument in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. Mr Nel, known as the "pit bull" for his aggressive tactics in court, insisted that by arming himself, the athlete had shown it was a "premeditated" act.

 

Delivering his closing arguments, Mr Nel insisted that, even if the court accepts his testimony and takes into account his version of events, the athlete is still guilty of murder because he fired "without a cause....No one came out the door.... A reasonable man would not fire".

“Even in the event of the court accepting the accused version, he cannot escape a verdict of murder,” Mr Nel said. “If you fire four shots into a small cubicle with black talon ammunition you see the possibility that you will kill somebody.”

Video: Prosecution wraps up final arguments

Pistorius is accused of murdering the model and law graduate in his upscale home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year. He also faces three separate charges, including two counts of discharging firearms in public and possession of illegal ammunition. He denies all charges and claims he shot Ms Steenkamp by mistake, thinking there was a burglar.

Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence which usually carries a minimum of 25 years in jail if found guilty of premeditated murder, though mitigation could reduce it in this case. If found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, he could face 15 years or a non-custodial sentence. Pistorius is currently free on bail.

South Africa does not have trial by jury, meaning the athlete's fate will be decided by judge Masipa, with the help of two assessors.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test