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Oscar Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide

Sentencing has been scheduled for 13 October.

Updated 11.08 pm

News - Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial - Judgement Day 2 - Pretoria Oscar Pistorius arriving at the court house this morning. Source: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix/Sports Inc/Press Association Images

OSCAR PISTORIUS HAS been found guilty of culpable homicide in South Africa.

The 27-year-old athlete was found not guilty of the premeditated murder and not guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp yesterday.

The verdict was handed down by Judge Thokozile Masipa today, and sentencing will take place on 13 October.

He could face up to 15 years in prison.

Pistorius stood trial, accused of the murder of his 30-year-old model girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year.

He said he mistook her for an intruder, while the prosecution said he killed her intentionally after an argument.

“A reasonable person” 

Judge Masipa said that “a reasonable person” would have foreseen that firing four shots through the door of a small room, the bathroom where Steenkamp was, was likely to kill the person inside, and ‘and would have taken steps to avoid this’.

She said that Pistorius had not foreseen this.

“I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances, it is clear that his conduct was negligent.”

However, the judge approved an application for his bail to be extended.

This is despite arguments from the lead prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, that Pistorius was now convinced of a serious crime, had sold all his property in South Africa (with the judge accepted was to pay legal costs), had been kicked out a nightclub, and was a suicide risk,

During this exchange, his uncle’s home address was read out.

What is culpable homicide?

In South African law, culpable homicide is defined as “the unlawful negligent killing of a human being”. It is often equated to manslaughter. Pistorius could now receive up to 15 years in prison.

On separate charges, he was found not guilty of firing a gun through the sunroof of a car following a dispute with a police officer, due to conflicting evidence between two witnesses.

The judge ruled that the athlete was guilty of unlawfully firing a gun in a public place when a friend’s pistol he was handling discharged under a table in a restaurant in Johannesburg in early 2013 — weeks before Steenkamp’s killing.

He was found not guilty on a separate charge of the illegal possession of handgun ammunition.

The judge heavily criticised the reliability of one of the witnesses, Darren Fresco, referring to him as “dishonest”.

However, he was granted indemnity from prosecution.

Armed security officers stood at each of the three entrances to the courtroom today, while others stood near the red-robed judge as she explained her verdicts from her dais overlooking the court. There were also paramedics in the courtroom.

First published 12.08 am 

More to follow. Additional reporting by Sinead O’Carroll and Associated Press.

Oscar Pistorius Judge: This trial is not public entertainment

Read: ‘I did not intend to kill Reeva’ – Oscar Pistorius on the night he shot his girlfriend

VIDEO: Oscar Pistorius apologises to family of Reeva Steenkamp

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Nicky Ryan

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