​Oscar's defence should think twice before appealing sentence, says expert

Judge Thokozile Masipa. (AFP)

Judge Thokozile Masipa. (AFP)

Oscar Pistorius’ defence might be cautious about appealing his sentence for murder, to be handed down on Wednesday, says a legal expert not involved in the case.

“The Supreme Court of Appeal has already been very stern in its judgment. They dealt quite harshly with the facts of the matter. From a defence point of view, you might be cautious to run to the SCA,” advocate Marius du Toit said on Tuesday.

Pistorius’ lawyers would have 14 days from Wednesday, the day of his sentencing, to file papers with Judge Thokozile Masipa asking for leave to appeal, if they chose to go that route. If she denied it, they had 21 days to approach the SCA.

Pistorius will be sentenced for the Valentine’s Day 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot four times into his toilet through the locked door, allegedly mistaking Steenkamp for an intruder hiding behind it.

Masipa found him guilty of culpable homicide. The State challenged this in the SCA. On December 3 2015, the SCA replaced Masipa’s verdict with one of murder and instructed her to sentence Pistorius afresh.

Du Toit said it would however not make sense for Pistorius to be granted bail pending any appeal, as Masipa had already sentenced him to jail for five years for culpable homicide. It was no longer a question of whether he should be convicted or not.

All the SCA would do was determine a higher or lower sentence. Thus going directly to jail would be his only option in the interim, Du Toit said.

Whatever his jail term, Pistorius would, in terms of the law, have to serve four-fifths of it before becoming eligible for parole. Du Toit said it however seemed parole was generally considered after an offender had served two-thirds.

Du Toit said his gut feel was that Pistorius would get 10 years. It was unlikely he would get the minimum of 15 years for murder, as his disability, his year spent in jail and all the circumstances of the case would count as substantial and compelling factors to deviate from this.

In addition there was sympathy for Pistorius. “This case is not about spousal abuse. It’s a case of erroneous belief. He’s made the biggest error of his life, hence there is sympathy. The defence really laboured on that. He’s not your average Joe, he’s got disabilities. So Judge Masipa has to take that seriously into consideration.” – News24

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