It’s the trial that’s captured the fascination of the world’s press and people since it began on 3rd March 2014 – that of Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine’s Day murder of model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Pretoria, South Africa.
Eventual sentencing on 21st October 2014 saw the Paraolympian sentenced for ‘culpable homicide’ the equivalent to that of manslaughter in UK law, a decision that was met with mixed reactions with just five years imprisonment.
In October 2014 I produced a blog “Oscar’s English Justice” based on the original controversial decision of culpable homicide:-
“Reflecting on the trial and sentence, two questions arise in my mind; firstly, what likely offence would he have been convicted of, and secondly, what sentence would he have received if the trial was before the English Courts?
In my opinion, the inevitable charge at trial would have been murder. The issues for the jury would have been did Oscar intend to kill or cause grievous bodily harm? If sure of these facts a jury could convict of murder.
The relevant facts appear to be the use of a gun, that three shots were fired and Oscar’s state of mind. It appears that the first two issues are relevant to his state of mind.
Put yourself in the seats of the jury and ask yourself this question - what would you expect to happen if you fired three shots from a high powered firearm into a confined space where you knew another person to be?
The answer is surely that you would probably kill them. This uncomplicated approach leads me to conclude that a murder conviction would be likely.”
We now learn that the prosecutions appeal against the finding of culpable homicide rather than murder has been successful. This means that Mr. Pistorius will be re-sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for the offence of murder.
The decision on appeal appears to reflect the evidence. If you shoot numerous bullets at someone your intention is likely to be to kill them or cause them really serious bodily harm. To paraphrase from my original blog “Put yourself in the seats of the jury and ask yourself this question - what would you expect to happen if you fired three shots from a high powered firearm into a confined space where you knew another person to be?”
In my opinion eventually the South African Courts appear to have reached the correct verdict which would mirror how I would see the case unfolding in the UK. However, I must stress that it is extremely unfortunate that the families and loved ones directly affected by this case have had to wait over a year for the correct verdict - I feel that this ultimately is due to the failings of the Courts.