Oscar Pistorius sentenced to five years for culpable homicide

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Oscar Pistorius has this morning been sentenced to a five-year prison term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, with a further three-year suspended sentence ordered for the lesser firearms charge.

Judge Thokozile Masipa decided that time behind bars was the right course of action after Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, ultimately coming to the conclusion that house arrest of even community service would send out the wrong message for such a serious offence.

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The prosecution had called for a tough stance to be taken once a guilty verdict had been rendered, pleading with Masipa to hand Pistorius a stern 10-year jail term.

Masipa didn't agree but also didn't meet the request of the defence council, who felt the Paralympic star had already lost everything and should be allowed to serve his time under house arrest with a community service order.

Pistorius may be in jail for just 10 months

The judge insisted that sentencing is far from an exact science as she delivered her verdict, but felt the right balance had been struck in a decision she had eventually come to on her own.

Masipa said in a prepared statement: "Sentencing is about achieving the right balance. Sentencing is not a perfect exercise."

Despite that lengthy jail term the former Paralympic superstar may spend just 10 months in jail and serve the rest of his time under house arrest, according to his defence team.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux made that claim to BBC News shortly after the verdict had been passed, but their attempt to prove that prison system in South Africa is not capable of coping with the special demands of an inmate like Pistorius ultimately proved unfounded.

Seven-month trial may not mean an end to proceedings

The 27-year-old does of course still have the right to appeal that decision, but after a high-profile trial that lasted for seven long months it may to time for the Steenkamp family to take some solace in the fact justice has been served and be given space to grieve in peace.

Pistorius is currently in the holding cells at North Gauteng High Court, but could be moved to Pretoria Central Prison later as early as later today to begin his custodial sentence.

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