Parole hearing being held for former athlete Oscar Pistorius

24 November 2023, 08:04

Oscar Pistorius
South Africa Pistorius Parole Hearing. Picture: PA

The 37-year-old has spent almost 10 years in prison after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2013.

Former athlete Oscar Pistorius could be granted parole on Friday after spending nearly 10 years in prison for murder.

It is the latest turn in the story of the double-amputee Olympic runner who killed his girlfriend by shooting her multiple times through a toilet door at his home in South Africa.

Pistorius, who had his 37th birthday this week, was sent to prison in late 2014 and has been given a second chance at parole in the space of eight months after he was wrongly ruled ineligible for early release at a first hearing in March.

That was due to an error made by an appeals court over when Pistorius’ jail sentence officially started and if he had served the required time.

He was 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.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius was convicted of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp (left) (Citypress,Lucky Nxumalo, via AP/PA)

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.

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.

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.

June Steenkamp
June Steenkamp will not oppose the parole application (AP/PA)

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.

The Department of Corrections said if Pistorius is granted parole, he might not be released immediately and it is up to the parole board “to work out the placement date should an inmate be declared ready to be placed on parole”.

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.

By Press Association

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