Killer Paralympian Oscar Pistorius to be freed after shooting dead his model girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 10 years ago

24 November 2023, 11:24 | Updated: 24 November 2023, 11:40

Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison in January
Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison in January. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Oscar Pistorius has been granted parole after spending nearly 11 years in prison for his girlfriend's murder.

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The former Paralympic sprinter killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa in 2013. He shot Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013 at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, in a killing that shocked the world.

He fired at her through a bathroom door, later saying he had mistaken Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and claiming he feared for his safety.

He will be released from prison in January after his legal team argued that he had served sufficient time behind bars.

Psychologists and welfare officers will carry out assessments of him before his release on January 5 2024.

Pistorius killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa in 2013
Pistorius killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa in 2013. Picture: Alamy

He was sent to prison in late 2014, initially convicted of culpable homicide - a charge comparable to manslaughter - for killing model and reality TV star Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013 in Pretoria.

That conviction was overturned and he was convicted of murder after an appeal by prosecutors.

They also appealed against an initial sentence of six years for murder and Pistorius was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison.

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He was sent to prison in late 2014 for shooting dead his model girlfriend through a toilet door
He was sent to prison in late 2014 for shooting dead his model girlfriend through a toilet door. Picture: Alamy

Serious offenders in South Africa must serve at least half their sentence to be eligible for parole, which Pistorius has done.

Pistorius testified at his murder trial that he killed Ms Steenkamp by mistake and thought she was a dangerous intruder hiding in his bathroom in the middle of the night when he fired four times through the door with his licensed 9mm pistol.

Prosecutors argued that Ms Steenkamp had fled to the toilet cubicle during a late-night argument and Pistorius killed her in a rage.

Pistorius was eventually convicted of murder on a legal principle known as dolus eventualis, which means he acted with extreme recklessness and should have known that whoever was behind the door would likely be killed.

Sprinter Pistorius was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison
Sprinter Pistorius was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison. Picture: Alamy

The killing happened when Pistorius was at the height of his fame and just months after he had become the first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics.

He was also a multiple Paralympic sprinting champion and one of sport's most marketable figures having overcome the amputation of both his legs below the knee as a baby to run on specially-designed carbon-fiber blades.

At his murder trial, prosecutors argued there was another side to Pistorius' life that involved guns, nightclubs and angry confrontations with others.

Pistorius was also found guilty of a second charge of recklessly firing a gun in a restaurant.

Ms Steenkamp's mother, June Steenkamp, will not oppose Pistorius' parole, her lawyer said.

Ms Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp, died in September and the mother's decision to not oppose Pistorius' early release is an apparent softening of the family's position.

There have been only occasional glimpses of Pistorius' life behind bars over the last decade.

His father has said he has been holding bible classes for fellow prisoners, although there have also been flashes of trouble, including an altercation Pistorius had with another inmate over a prison telephone that left him requiring medical treatment.

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