Oscar Pistorius to be sentenced for murder on July 6th

The athlete is facing 15 years in prison for killing Reeva Steenkamp three years ago

Oscar Pistorius, court, sentencing hearing, prosthetic legs, stumps, Barry Roux,

Oscar Pistorius arrives at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa for his sentencing proceedings | Image: Themba Hadebe / AP/Press Association Images

A judge has announced that disgraced athlete Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced for Reeva Steenkamp's murder on July 6th.

The date was originally set for July 7th, but was adjusted slightly at the defence's request.

Judge Thozokile Masipa's decision at a courthouse in Pretoria follows a three-day court hearing.

Earlier, Pistorius removed his prosthetic legs as part of his defence team's argument that the double-amputee athlete deserves leniency when he is sentenced.

The athlete, who is facing 15 years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, cried and blew his nose as he hobbled in front of Judge Masipa in Pretoria.

Pistorius was on his stumps when he shot Ms Steenkamp dead through a toilet door at his home on Valentine's Day three years ago.

He testified during the trial that he felt vulnerable and thought an intruder was in the house. But prosecutors say Pistorius intentionally killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument.

Mr Roux told the court there were "substantial and compelling circumstances" that allowed the judge to deviate from the minimum term of 15 years in prison for murder in South Africa.

Mr Roux's plea followed testimony from Kim Martin, a cousin of Ms Steenkamp, who accused Pistorius of not giving the "true version" of the shooting.

She also criticised him for not giving evidence at the hearing but agreeing to a TV interview that will air after the hearing ends.

This screenshot shows Pistorius without his prosthetic legs inside court 

"I think it's very unfair to want to talk to the world about your version when you had the opportunity in court to do so," Ms Martin said under questioning from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Pistorius is living under house arrest having initially served one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter for shooting Ms Steenkamp.

This conviction was overturned last year by an appeals court, which then convicted Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder.

However, Mr Roux said there were "serious enemies" of Pistorius' case and listed what he said were misconceptions that still existed about the shooting and the decision last year to change the conviction to murder.

He said the first misconception was that people thought Pistorius was convicted of murder for intentionally killing Ms Steenkamp when he shot her.

The Supreme Court found Pistorius guilty of murder in that he realised that someone might die as a result of his actions and went ahead anyway.

The ruling did not say that Pistorius knew it was his girlfriend behind the door.

Mr Roux also said it was not the "strong, ambitious" Pistorius, the Olympic runner and Paralympic champion, who fired four shots that night.  Rather, it was a disabled man in fear for his life, Mr Roux argued.

He also claimed that the "emotions" of the trial had clouded some facts, including that the prosecution's allegation that there was a loud fight between Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp had never been proved.

Pistorius was hunched over in the courtroom and held his head in his hands as Mr Roux talked about the shooting.

At other points he sat up straight on his wooden bench.