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Public opinion had no bearing on decision - Masipa

Judge Masipa said there was an 'unfortunate' perception around the events of Reeva Steenkamp's murder.

FILE: Judge Thokozile Masipa reads her judgement during sentencing of Oscar Pistorius at the High Court. Picture: Pool.

JOHANNESBURG - Judge Thokozile Masipa said that public opinion may have been loud and persistent but it had no bearing on the court's decision to sentence Oscar Pistorius to six years in prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Masipa handed down her sentence yesterday, having heard argument last month for a second time, after Pistorius' culpable homicide conviction was overturned to that of murder by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Judge Masipa appeared to take a sympathetic tone when she handed down sentence yesterday, particularly when she described Pistorius as a broken man and a fallen hero who was financially ruined.

Masipa said that there had been a misconception in the case, particularly in the fact that no evidence proved that the former athlete and Steenkamp had a fight before he fired four shots into the bathroom door at his home on Valentine's Day in 2013.

But she said there had been an unfortunate perception around the events of the day of Steenkamp's murder.

"In the minds of some people, that on the night of the murder there was an argument between the accused and the deceased, the unfortunate part of it is that not a shred of evidence, placed before this court, supports such a perception."

Masipa said she did not believe that long-term imprisonment for Pistorius would serve justice and she emphasised that the object of sentencing was not to satisfy public opinion.

FIRST NIGHT IN JAIL

Pistorius spent his first night back in prison after being handed a six-year jail term, which has been described by some legal experts as a "fair sentence".

Advocate Mannie Witz said Masipa weighed up all the facts.

"The maximum sentences she could have imposed for a first offender was between 15 and 20 but she was definitely fair. I don't think there's a dispute on the State that they were substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the minimum sentence."

Lawyer Cliff Alexander said the legal fraternity was expecting a sentence of anything between six and eight years.

"I think six was sort of in the ballpark. There are a lot of people who are dissatisfied about it, particularly people in the National Prosecuting Authority as well as members of the public. I think all in all it is fair, given that Oscar Pistorius has already served 12 months."

WATCH: Pistorius handed six years for Steenkamp's murder

DEFENCE WON'T APPEAL

The convicted murderer's legal team also confirmed that they would not be appealing the sentence.

"Just from the defence team, we respect the decision by Judge Masipa and we will not be lodging any applications for leave to appeal going forward. Oscar will serve the sentence as handed down by Masipa," attorney Andrew Fawcett said.

ANCWL SHOCKED AND DISAPPOINTED WITH SENTENCE

The African National Congress Women's League said it was shocked and disappointed with the sentence.

The League's Jackie Mofokeng said the outcome is shameful.

"It's actually an insult to women [and] an insult to the Steenkamp family. It's worrying that when listening to the judge, when she talks about public opinion, [one asks oneself] 'if it were in other countries where they have a jury, what was she going say?'"

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