Judge dismisses leave to appeal against Oscar Pistorius sentence

African News Agency (ANA)

Judge Thokozile Masipa on Friday dismissed with costs the States’s request for leave to appeal the six-year sentence she handed to Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

She said she was not persuaded that any other court would come to a different conclusion.

Earlier, State Prosecuter Gerrie Nel said the court made as many as six misdirections when it sentenced convicted murderer Pistorius to six years in prison.

Nel told the South Gauteng High Court during the State’s request for leave to appeal that the sentence was “shockingly lenient” given the gravity of the offence.

Last month Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is presiding, sentenced Pistorius to six years for murder after he had already served nearly a year in prison and about eight months under house arrest.

The State wanted a harsher sentence imposed on the 29-year-old Paralympic athlete for the 2013 Valentine’s Day murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, in Pistorius’ Pretoria home.

Nel said the court erred in finding that Pistorius was remorseful and that he was a good candidate for rehabilitation.

He said the court gave too much weighting to Pistorius’ circumstances rather than the gravity of the offence.

The court also misdirected itself when it found that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors, he argued.

Nel said the fact that Pistorius had fired four bullets into a small toilet where there was no room for escape meant the respondent’s action bordered on dolus eventulis.

He said Pistorius left his bedroom armed with an intention to kill.

“We respectfully submit that there are reasonable prospects that a court of appeal may arise at a different conclusion of sentence and, my lady, find that the sentence passed is startlingly or strikingly disparate from the sentence which a court of appeal may consider appropriate for the crime,” said Nel.

Initially, Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, but the State successfully appealed the conviction and the fallen athlete was instead found guilty of the murder of Steenkamp.

Last month, on July 6, Masipa re-sentenced Pistorius, a double amputee, to six years in prison for murder.

Barry Roux, for the defence, said the State was being vindictive and there were no grounds for an appeal of sentence.

He said the six-year sentence was not lenient as Pistorius had already served time in jail and had been under house arrest.

“This case is presented … and you will see it in the notice with repetitive grounds, it fragmented the judgement and there was just a failure to read the judgement in its proper context,” said Roux.

He said Pistorius had fallen from the top to the bottom and had lost everything and had been sent back to prison when he thought he had done what was required of him.

Roux said given the circumstances the sentence was not “shockingly lenient”.

“What does the State want?” asked Roux, who had earlier praised Masipa’s judgement as one that made him proud of the judiciary.

Masipa adjourned the matter to consider both arguments. When she returned Masipa dismissed the application for leave to appeal in a terse judgement.

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SOURCEAfrican News Agency (ANA)