Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide but released on bail until sentencing next month

 

Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide in a South African court after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp but has been granted bail until he is sentenced on October 13.

The six-time Paralympic champion had been cleared of premeditated murder by Judge Thokozile Masipa in a court in Pretoria yesterday.

But today she found Pistorius guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide which carries a punishment of anything from a fine to a maximum 15 years in prison.

The prosecution had called for Pistorius to be put in custody until his sentencing hearing next month claiming he was a flight risk but Judge Masipa dismissed their concerns.

Instead, the athlete will remain living at the house of his uncle in the South African city, where he has been staying for the past 18 months since killing his former girlfriend on February 14 last year.

State prosecutors said they were “disappointed” Pistorius was not convicted of murder but said it would wait until after sentencing to decide whether to appeal.

In announcing a verdict of culpable homicide, Judge Masipa said Pistorius acted “negligently” when he fired shots through a toilet door but in the “belief that there was an intruder”.

He has also been found guilty of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant.

As well as being cleared of murder, Pistorius was also found not guilty of illegally possessing ammunition.

The 27-year-old sprinter, who also competed in the Olympics at London 2012, fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013 because he claimed he believed there was an intruder in the house.

Three of those bullets struck the 29-year-old model and law graduate, killing her.

The couple had been dating for three months and Pistorius denied they had been arguing on the night of the shooting.

Pistorius has always claimed that he believed Steenkamp was in the bedroom when he went to the adjoining toilet where he said he thought he heard noises coming from and began shooting.

Judge Masipa agreed with this version of events saying “it cannot be said that the accused did not entertain a genuine belief that there was an intruder”.

But, she added:”The accused knew there was a person behind the toilet door, he chose to use a firearm.

“I am of the view the accused acted too hastily and used too much force.

“It is clear his conduct is negligent.”

Pistorius is one of the most high profile and successful Paralympic athletes in history.

The man known as the “Blade Runner” won gold in the T44 200 metres at Athens 2004 before claiming three golds at Beijing 2008 in the T44 100m, 200m and 400m.

At London 2012 he won a further two gold medals in the T44 400m and the T42-T46 4x 100m relay.

Reacting to the news, the International Paralympic Committee said in a statement: “Following today’s verdict, our thoughts remain with all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy, in particular the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp who sadly lost her life in this incident.

“Throughout this case, the IPC has stressed the importance of differentiating between Oscar’s contribution to the Paralympic Movement and his private life.

“As a sports organisation, it would be unwise for the IPC to comment on the conclusion of a court case that is not related to sport.”

This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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