Oscar Pistorius’s lawyer makes final plea in his concluding arguments
Oscar Pistorius’s lawyer on Wednesday made an impassioned final plea for the Paralympic athlete who is awaiting a new sentence for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago.
Barry Roux set out his concluding arguments at the High Court in Pretoria, denying that the 29-year-old had deliberately killed Steenkamp.
“It is a man on his stumps, at three o’clock in the morning, who did not want to kill his girlfriend (and) believed that at the time she was in the bedroom. Do you send that person to 15 years in jail?” Roux said.
“Who else other than an intruder would have entered at three o’clock?”
The double-amputee champion sprinter killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.
In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal found Pistorius guilty of murder — irrespective of who was behind the door when he opened fire with a pistol he kept under his bed.
The standard jail term for murder in South Africa is 15 years, but Pistorius’s sentence may be reduced due to the year he has already spent in prison and mitigating factors, including his disability.
Roux urged judge Thokozile Masipa to “entertain the correct facts and not to be drowned by the many perceptions” whirling around the case that attracted years of intense public scrutiny.
“The accused has lost everything. He can never ever resume his career,” Roux said.
“He lost his future… he has paid physically, he is the shadow of the man he was. He is a broken man, he has paid financially, he has paid socially. He is paying constantly.”
Pistorius held his head in his hands and sobbed as the hearing, which opened on Monday, relived both the killing and his dramatic trial in 2014.
“The accused is a first offender, the accused lost a person he genuinely loved as a result of his unlawful shooting — he must live with that for the rest of his life,” Roux added.
Pistorius was originally convicted of culpable homicide — the equivalent of manslaughter — until the appeal court upgraded his crime to murder.
Judge Masipa, who gave the original verdict, is due to hand down a new sentence for murder after arguments from the prosecution and defence are completed.
Thursday is a national holiday in South Africa, and the sentence could be given on Friday — with Pistorius facing an immediate return to jail.
Earlier, Kim Martin, Reeva Steenkamp’s cousin, gave the last state evidence in the hearing.
“I never ever heard him say that ‘I apologise for shooting, murdering Reeva behind that door’,” she told the court.
“I don’t feel there was an apology from him, I don’t feel the truth came out. We just wanted the truth.”
She added that she was uncertain whether Pistorius and Steenkamp were in a truly loving relationship.
Barry Steenkamp, 73, Reeva’s father, had broken down in court on Tuesday as he said Pistorius must “pay for his crime” of shooting Reeva, a model and law graduate.
Imagining how his daughter, 29, died, Steenkamp said: “She must have been in so much fear and pain.”
Pistorius was released from jail last October to live under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide.
He has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage and, during his seven-month trial in 2014, vomited in the dock as details of his lover’s death were examined in excruciating detail.
The year before he killed Steenkamp, Pistorius became the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when he appeared at the London 2012 games.