Oscar Pistorius guilty: Paralympian convicted of culpable homicide over shooting of Reeva Steenkamp

Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 12 September 2014 09:54
Oscar Pistorius will learn the verdict of his murder trial on Thursday
Oscar Pistorius will learn the verdict of his murder trial on Thursday

South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide over the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

The double-amputee athlete shot and killed his girlfriend through a locked toilet door in his home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled on Thursday that there was insufficient proof to convict him of premeditated murder but called the killing "negligent".

She argued that Pistorius had chosen to arm himself with a gun and “clearly wanted to use the firearm” when there were other ways of dealing with the threat.

"All the accused had to do was pick up the phone and ring security, or run to the balcony and call for help,” she added.

Ms Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, died almost instantly after she was shot four times in the head, arm and hip through the toilet door.

She had been in a relationship with Pistorius, 27, for three months after the pair met in November 2012 and began dating soon after.

Throughout his six-and-a-half-month trial, Pistorius and his legal team said he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and accidentally fired shots, fatally wounding her.

Culpable homicide, the South African equivalent of manslaughter, carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Pistorius faces five more years in jail for firing a gun in a restaurant in January 2013.

The Olympic athlete denied firing a Glock pistol in the busy dining area, endangering the 200 people eating lunch, but Judge Masipa said it did not absolve him of guilt.

“The accused asked for a firearm while in a restaurant full of patrons,” she added.

"He may not have intentionally pulled the trigger but that does not absolve him."

Pistorius was acquitted of another charge of discharging a firearm in a public place because of "poor" evidence.

The incident related to an allegation that the Olympian fired his weapon through a car sunroof in November 2012 but Judge Masipa said the prosecution had failed to establish guilt.

He was also cleared of possessing ammunition for an unlicensed firearm.

South African newspapers were critical of the judge’s verdict that Pistorius had not murdered Ms Steenkamp.

The Times chose the provocative headline “Oscar dodges bullet” with a photograph of his dead girlfriend’s father, Barry Steenkamp, staring at him in court.

"Oscar Pistorius is a liar - but not a cold-blooded murderer," their report began.

The Pretoria News dubbed the ruling “Oscar’s great escape” and featured a large picture on its front page of a stream of snot dripping from the emotional athlete’s nose.

A lawyer told the newspaper: “Oscar Pistorius can count himself flippen lucky.”

Similarly unflattering pictures were used in the Cape Argus, Cape Times, DFA and the New Age, which headlined its front page “Tears of relief”.

A montage of pictures featured Pistorius’ defence lawyer, looking satisfied, and a displeased Gerrie Nel, who is the lead prosecutor.

The Citizen made no secret of its disappointment with the headline “Crying shame”, following Thursday’s front page simply saying: “Jail him!”

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