Oscar Pistorius' Sentence Doubled To 13 Years

Oscar Pistorius has had his sentence for murdering his girlfriend more than doubled after a court ruled that his previous punishment was too lenient.

A South African appeals court has increased the Paralympic athlete's prison time from six years to 13 years and five months.

Pistorius, 31, shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013 when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

The shamed 'Blade Runner' now faces a return to a maximum security jail dominated by violent gangs, where he previously served a year in fear for his life.

Supreme Court of Appeal judges were 'unanimous' in sentencing Pistorius to South Africa's minimum 15 years for murder, ruling Pistorius' six year punishment sentence for killing Reeva Steenkamp had been 'inappropriate', Judge Willie Seriti said.

The time he has already served behind bars will be deducted from that punishment, so the effective sentence is 13 years. 

Today's finding was the second time the appeal judges have overruled Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over Pistorius' murder trial and originally cleared the disgraced sprinter of murder.

Pistorius, who turned 31 on Wednesday, is currently being held in 'relaxed' Atteridgeville Correctional Facility, a few miles from his family's mansion where he has been working in the compound's vegetable gardens and orchards and has his own en-suite bathroom.

But the jail only takes inmates serving a maximum of six years, which will now force Pistorius to be moved to the notorious, over-crowded Kgosi Mampuru II jail.

The family of Ms Steenkamp welcomed the increased sentence and said it showed that justice could prevail in South Africa.

'This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,' Tania Koen, a spokeswoman for the Steenkamp family said.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014 and has always denied that he killed Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

Previously a role model for disabled people worldwide, Pistorius was released from jail in 2015 after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter.

However, shortly after his release that year, Pistorius found was guilty of murder, irrespective of whoever was behind the door when he opened fire with a pistol he kept under his bed.

He returned behind bars after his conviction, and is being held at a prison in Pretoria.   

The year before he killed Steenkamp, Pistorius became the first double-amputee to race at the Olympics when he competed at the London 2012 games.

Following today's court ruling, a source close to the family confirmed that the double amputee's father Henke will now apply to become amicus curiae – Latin for 'friend of the court'.

This will allow him to raise questions to undermine ballistics evidence that was heard during the trial. 

'Henke believes that the state did not present accurate information to the court and this was not challenged by Barry Roux, Oscar's lawyer.

'He thinks the information he has spent months researching is vital and proves that Oscar had no intention of killing the person behind the door.

'He is convinced he has enough to convince appeal court judges that there has been a miscarriage of justice in the case and his research clears Oscar of murder.' 

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5113349/Oscar-Pistorius-murder-sentence-doubled.html#ixzz4zKxhXml4
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