Pistorius should avoid jail term, sentencing told

 
Frank Dalleres
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Oscar Pistorius could face 15 years in prison
PARALYMPIC superstar Oscar Pistorius should be spared jail and instead serve three years of house arrest and community service for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a probation officer told his sentencing hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel criticised the suggestion, calling it “shockingly inappropriate”. Pistorius was last month found guilty of culpable homicide but not guilty of the premeditated killing of model and law graduate Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

Probation officer Joel Maringa, appearing for the defence, recommended Pistorius, who could face up to 15 years in jail, be given “correctional supervision”, which would require spending a portion of the day at home, and community service such as sweeping streets outside museums. He said: “We are basically not saying that he should be destroyed because he will still be coming back into the community.”

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is expected to make her decision later this week, also heard from the double amputee athlete’s psychologist Dr Lore Hartzenberg, who began counselling Pistorius shortly after his fatal shooting of Steenkamp at his Pretoria home and depicted the 27-year-old as “a broken man who has lost everything”. “Some of the sessions were just him weeping and crying and me holding him,” she added.

Nel, who is due to call at least two witnesses, questioned whether Pistorius was intending to resume his track career if he avoided jail. The man nicknamed Blade Runner made history by appearing at the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and has been told that there is no barrier to him competing again.

Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide but not murder after ruling that prosecutors had not proven his intent to kill when he fired through the door of his toilet. He argued that he believed an intruder was hiding in the bathroom and did not realise that it was Steenkamp.