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Oscar Pistorius sentence: A timeline of the trial

The former Paralympian was sentenced today for killing his girlfriend

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 21 October 2014 10:23 BST
Oscar Pistorius arrives in court on day six of sentencing procedures at the High Court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius arrives in court on day six of sentencing procedures at the High Court in Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The disgraced runner, who was the first double amputee to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics, had been found guilty of culpable homicide, the South African equivalent of manslaughter, at the end of a seven-month trial in September.

The 27-year-old's journey from being the celebrated “Blade Runner” to standing trial for shooting his girlfriend dead has captivated the world.

Today's outcome at Pretoria High Court is likely to be controversial.

Pistorius' lawyers had argued he would not be safe in any prison, which may have insufficient facilities for his disability, while prosecutors said anything less than a jail sentence would be “shockingly inappropriate”.

Timeline: The Oscar Pistorius trial

February 14 2013 - Oscar Pistorius is arrested for questioning over the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. She was found dead after being shot three times at the Paralympian’s home in Pretoria, South Africa.

February 15 - Pistorius appears in court where he is formally charged with murder and told to return for a bail hearing within the next few days. He breaks down in tears. His father Henke, brother Carl and sister Aimee attend to support him.

February 16 - Reality television show Tropika Island of Treasure, which features an interview with Reeva Steenkamp, is aired in South Africa three days after she was shot dead. The South African Broadcasting Corporation dedicate the show to the former model.

February 18 - A South African newspaper reports that a bloody cricket bat was recovered from Pistorius’s home.

February 19 - On the first day of the trial, Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend, claiming he shot her thinking she was an intruder. He breaks down in tears on several occasions as prosecutors charge him with premeditated murder. On the same day, Reeva Steenkamp's funeral takes place in her home town of Port Elizabeth.

February 20, 2013: Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court (Reuters)

February 21 - The lead investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, is replaced after he is charged with seven counts of attempted murder.

February 22 - The magistrate grants the athlete bail at 1m rand (£72, 000) and he is ordered to hand over his passport and give up his firearms.

March 3 - Oscar pleads not guilty to murder and three unrelated firearms charges. Pistorius's neighbour Michelle Berger, the first witness on the stand, tells the jury she heard ‘petrified and blood-curdling screams’ before the noise of gunshots at around 3am on the night Reeva was killed.

March 10 - Pistorius vomits repeatedly in court after hearing graphic details describing Reeva’s fatal injuries.

March 11- The athlete's former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, stands as a witness and tells the court how a ‘furious’ Pistorius fired a gun out of a car sun-roof after being pulled over by police in September 2012.

Lt Col JG Vermeulen recreates a possible scenario at Oscar Pistorius home when he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

March 24 - Text messages between Miss Steenkamp and Pistorius are read to the court. The model describes how she was scared of him - “I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me” - and in the weeks before her death his jealousy and short temper escalated.

April 8 - Pistorius howls and retches in court whilst describing how he shot Reeva.

April 14 - Fans stand outside of the court with banners and messages of support. Others held a circle of prayer for the Paralympian. Fans, known as ‘Pistorians’, set up social media pages expressing further support.

April 15 - A South African newspaper reports that Pistorius was seen partying and flirting with women in Johannesburg during his bail period. Pistorius strongly denied that this was the case.

May 12 - It is suggested that the athlete be put under psychiatric observation after an expert says he has an anxiety disorder. The trial is set back once more.

Oscar Pistorius reacts during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

June 30 - After a six-week interruption a panel of psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude he is not suffering from a mental illness.

July 2 - A report is read out in court concluding that Pistorius is severely depressed and will have an increased suicide risk unless he gets mental health care.

August 8 - The trial concludes and a verdict is scheduled for September 11 2014.

September 11 - Judge Thokozile Masipa clears Pistorius of two different murder charges. In comments before lunch recess, Masipa says: “The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.” At lunch, the proceedings are adjourned until the next day.

Oscar Pistorius leaving court on bail on 12 September (AP)

September 12 - Within an hour of the start of court proceedings, a guilty verdict is delivered for the offence of 'culpable homicide', the equivalent of manslaughter in English law. The judge adds that there was a reasonable possibility that Pistorius thought he was attacking an intruder rather than intending to kill Steenkamp, though acted with recklessness and negligence.

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