The Paralympic gold athlete appeared in Pretoria high court today to be handed his sentence after his conviction for culpable homicide was upgraded to murder.
Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, four times through a locked bathroom door on Valentines Day in 2013.
Lawyers for Pistorius said they will not launch an appeal. Under South African law, he could be released under correctional supervision after serving one sixth of his sentence, meaning he could be out of prison in one year.
The 29-year-old was sentenced by Judge Thokozile Masipa, who said “substantial and compelling” reasons existed to deliver a sentence lower than the prescribed 15-year minimum.
Describing Pistorius as a "fallen hero", Judge Masipa said courts must consider aggravating factors as well as mitigating factors in sentencing. In the present case, she said there are a number of aggravating factors, but that they are outweighed by mitigating factors such as his remorse and rehabilitation.
One “substantial and compelling” reason put forward for a shorter sentence by Judge Masipa was the "misperception" an argument took place on the night of Ms Steenkamp’s death following testimony from her father, Barry Steenkamp.
In her remarks, Judge Masipa highlighted how Pistorius had successfully completed programmes in prison. “This is my view that the accused is a good candidate for rehabilitation and that the other purposes of punishment ought not to play a dominant role in sentencing.”
Judge Masipa also told the court it is dealing with two different people when it comes to Pistorius on his stumps and Pistorius wearing his prostheses.
“Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” she said. “I am of the view that a long term in prison will not serve justice.”
Pistorius appeared unemotional as he stood in court to hear his sentence. He then hugged his tearful sister Aimee before being led away to holding cells by guards.
As Judge Masipa delivered her verdict, Barry and Ms Steenkamp’s mother June stared ahead. Barry declined to comment on whether he would appeal Pistorius' sentence after the hearing, saying: “We'll leave that to the State.”
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