Oscar Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to run at the Olympic level was found guilty yesterday of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and will be resentenced in the New Year.
The amputee sprinter’s manslaughter conviction was overturned in court.
Welcoming the verdict, Steenkamp’s family said that Reeva can now rest in peace. Her father, Barry told media that his daughter will now be able to “rest well” knowing “justice was done”.
Pistorius was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013 and faces being sent back to jail until he is well into his forties.
The sprinter was not in the Supreme Court of Appeal to hear the decision of a five-member strong panel of judges overturn his manslaughter charge who instead imposed the murder conviction.
However, he is said to be “devastated” at the ruling as informed by his agent, Peet van Zyl. The ruling comes a month after he was freed to live at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria where he will remain under house arrest until he is re-sentenced next year.
In an emotional statement, Reeva’s father said: “I am sure that Reeva is up there watching it and now she’s saying ‘justice was done’. I am sure she’ll be able to rest well now.”
“It’s a big relief. I feel it’s a fair decision that the judge gave.”
Pistorius, 29, will now return to court in the New Year to face a new and much harsher sentence for shooting his former girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home.
The tragic killing of Miss Steenkamp, a law graduate turned cover girl at the hands of one of the world’s greatest sports stars was described as “a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions” by Justice Eric Leach who read a summary of the court’s findings.
In his verdict, Justice Leach concluded that Pistorius “fired without a rational or justifiable fear that his life was in danger. The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder.”
The former track star, who made his fortune following a historic appearance at the London Olympics, was put under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion on October 19 after serving one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter.
Justice Leach overturned that conviction to replace it with murder following a 53 minute court hearing.
During the hearing, the court regarded Pistorius as a “very poor” witness whose version of events changed “substantially”.
Justice Leach also declared the original judge Masipa’s understanding of “dolus eventualis” – awareness of the likely outcome of an action – to be “confusing in various respects”.
During the hearing, Justice Leach said that Pistorius must have forseen that his actions might kill the person behind his toilet door considering the type and number of bullets he used.
He also dismissed a possible retrial.
Pistorius, who said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he opened fire with his pistol, was released from prison on parole in October after serving one year of his five-year sentence.
Pistorius may now also make his own appeal to South Africa’s Constitutional Court – the country’s highest court.
But defence lawyers say he cannot afford further legal battles, having already paid huge legal bills.
The double amputee could be middle-aged by the time he tastes freedom again.