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Oscar Pistorius handed five-year jail sentence

SENTENCED: Pistorius, left, and judge Thokozile Masipais

THE HIGH profile trial of Oscar Pistorious has come to an end as the Paralympian was handed a five-year sentence for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent to manslaughter, but was acquitted of murder after shooting Steenkamp four times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

The seven-month long trial culminated in judge Masipa ruling that Pistorious did not intend to kill Steenkamp.

Also present at the ruling were the family of the deceased model. Speaking to reporters, the victim's mother June Steenkamp expressed her relief with the sentence but said it "would not magic Reeva back."

There was little reaction from the Pistorius family and the athlete himself sat gaunt-faced in the dock before the judge adjourned the proceedings and he was led down stairs to the cells.

According to legal experts, Pistorius could spend as little as ten months behind bars according to the act under which he was sentenced.

He would be required to spend at least one-sixth of his sentence before he can apply for leave to serve the rest under "correctional supervision".

Arnold Pistorius, spokesman for the family, said there would be no appeal against the sentence.

Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous night-time intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he opened fire with his 9mm pistol.

Prosecutors had demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete.

Defence lawyers argued that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate.

Dr Lore Hartzenberg, a psychologist had given evidence for the defence that Pistorius was a "broken man" after killing his girlfriend and had suffered emotionally and financially.

Pistorius's defense team also argued that South African prisons cannot cater for his disability and he would be vulnerable, even suggesting an alleged threat against Pistorius by a reputed prison gang leader.

Judge Masipa justified her sentencing in her closing statements in which she insisted that a custodial sentence was essential.

She said it would be a "sad day" for South Africa if there was a perception that it had one law for the rich and another for the poor.

Ruling from the athletic bodies have since issued a statement that Pistorius would no longer be able to compete after serving his sentence.

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