Pretoria: Oscar Pistorius was not a “cold-blooded killer” and should serve a community-based sentence, his defence argued today in a last-ditch attempt to keep the star sprinter out of jail.
Pistorius wept in the dock as his lawyer Barry Roux said he had already suffered enough for killing his model girlfriend, describing the Paralympian gold medallist’s devastating fall from disabled icon and sporting stardom to a loathed criminal.
“He’s lost everything, he was an icon in the eyes of South Africa,” said Roux in his final argument on the sentence Pistorius should serve for shooting Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
Roux says Pistorius had also lost the woman he loved, “most of his friends” and “all of his immovable properties”.
“He was denigrated to the extent that all that was left was a rage killer, a cold-blooded killer, and everything that was horrible,” said Roux, describing 27-year-old Pistorius as a “victim” of unprecedented malicious media attention.
The sensational trial has been broadcast live around the world.
Pistorius was genuinely remorseful for accidentally killing the woman he loved and would suffer from this for the rest of his life, Roux said.
Citing “Ubuntu” — an African principal of humanity that is an important pillar of South Africa’s post-apartheid legal system — Roux said the only suitable penalty for Pistorius would be a community-based sentence.
“The punishment of the accused immediately commenced after the incident,” said Roux, arguing the “trauma” Pistorius has suffered since shooting Steenkamp is “far more severe than any other criminal punishment”.
Roux said Pistorius never intended to shoot the 29-year-old law graduate four times through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home, arguing that the excessive force was a result of the double-amputee’s feeling of vulnerability in the face of what he thought was an intruder.
“Is it just someone walking to the door thinking there is an intruder, or recklessly firing shots into the door, or is it a compromised person acting excessively?” said Roux. “It’s a compromised person doing that.”
Pistorius was cleared of murder in September but found guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to anything from a fine to a 15-year jail.
The sentence is at the discretion of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is expected to hand it down early next week.
Pistorius has argued he is a perfect candidate for house arrest because he is a first time offender, needs specialised physical and psychological care that he cannot receive in prison, and is tormented by remorse.