Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 6 years for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

His lawyer says he won't be appealing the decision

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Image: Shiraaz Mohamed / AP/Press Association Images

Updated: 20.30

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at their home in 2013.

The disgraced Paralympian could have faced a life sentence after the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned his manslaughter conviction and found him guilty of murder.

However, his sentence is considerably less than the minimum jail term of 15 years for murder under South African law.

The 29-year-old's lawyer, Barry Roux, was seen punching the air as the announcement was made - and the defence has confirmed they won't be appealing the sentence.

Pistorius could be eligible for parole in three years, and he is expected to return to prison immediately.

Andrew Fawcatt, Pistorius' lawyer, says he won't be appealing against his six year prison sentence:

He seemed emotionless throughout the lengthy sentencing, and at one point appeared to close his eyes as he listened to the verdict.

Before the hearing began, Pistorius was seen hugging his legal team and appeared calm as he sat in the dock and checked his mobile phone.

The last person he embraced before being taken down to the cells was his sister Aimee, who was in tears.

Judge Thozokile Masipa told the packed courtroom in Pretoria that she felt the mitigating circumstances in the case outweighed the aggravating factors - and described Pistorius as a "fallen hero".

She said the fact that the double amputee had tried to save Ms Steenkamp's life following the shooting played a factor in her sentencing, as did his repeated and unsuccessful attempts to apologise to her family.

However, the judge said she gave "very little weight" to the testimony given by Dr Jonathan Scholtz, a psychiatrist who testified for the defence on Pistorius's state of mind, as much of his evidence was "unsupported by anything concrete".

Although the court has adjourned, the judge said Pistorius would have the opportunity to appeal against the sentence.

It is also possible that the prosecution will appeal on the grounds that the sentence was too lenient.

Sky News Special Correspondent, Alex Crawford, said the initial reaction of Reeva Steenkamp's family was that Judge Masipa's sentence was "fair".

The athlete has never denied shooting and killing Ms Steenkamp, a law graduate, at his home in Pretoria on Valentine Day's morning 2013.

But he has always insisted he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four Black Talon bullets through the toilet door.

He says he only realised his mistake when he broke down the door with a cricket bat, by which time it was too late – she had been hit by three bullets, one in her skull.

Judge Masipa believed Pistorius’ version of events and sentenced him to five years for culpable homicide (manslaughter).

The runner served one fifth of that term before becoming eligible to continue the remainder under house arrest.

He has spent the past nine months at his uncle Arnold's home in an upmarket area of Pretoria, although his movements have been restricted and he has had to wear an electronic tag.

The culpable homicide conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal after a panel found Judge Masipa had misinterpreted the law.

They ruled Pistorius had committed murder and last month the two legal teams returned to the High Court to argue over the length of sentence.

Meanwhile, the South African judge is under fire for giving Pistorius the jail term of just 6 years, when the normal sentence for murder is a minimum of 15 years.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said the lenient sentence is because it's the athelete's first offence, and he's unlikely to re-offend.

Journalist with SABC Radio News Leila Magnus says the decision's sparked a national outcry: