Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to SIX YEARS for killing Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has been handed a six-year jail term for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - but could be out in 2019 after a judge outlined his 'special circumstances', reports Daily Mail.

The disgraced Paralympian was freed from prison in Pretoria, South African last October after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter. 

But Judge Thokozile Masipa said this morning that the athlete - who she described as a 'fallen hero' - would receive less than the usual 15 year minimum jail term for a murder conviction.

She told the court he had already spent 12 months in jail, was a first time offender and that he was 'not likely to reoffend'. It means the 29-year-old could serve just three more years in jail. 

Pistorius had been asked to stand to face the judge as she announced the sentence. He was due to be taken to prison immediately following the lengthy hearing.

However, the sentencing may also not be the end of the saga, as Pistorius or the state could launch a final round of appeals against the length of the prison term. 

The judge ordered a recess to give prosecutors and Pistorius' defense lawyers time to decide if either wanted to appeal the sentence. 

Pistorius shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

The athlete looked pale, drawn and hollow-eyed as he arrived at court this morning.

He spent several minutes hugging his family, friends and legal team who gathered in large numbers to support him. 

Fans bearing wrapped gifts lined up to hug their fallen hero as he picked his way through the packed court on what was likely to be his final walk as a free man.

As he moved slowly along the bench towards the dock, where he spent months on trial for murder, Pistorius deliberately sought to make eye contact and greet the parents of his 29-year-old victim as he passed in front of them.

Jenna Edkins, the double amputee’s former girlfriend, who has reportedly moved in with him to provide comfort during his last few weeks of freedom took her seat behind Pistorius, flanked by his sister Aimee and uncle Arnold.

He then took his seat and was seen tapping on his mobile phone.

Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, sat on the other side of the courtroom, which was packed with journalists and other observers.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said her sentence would consider a variety of factors, including the interests of society and those of the victims, as well as crime deterrence and rehabilitation.

Masipa asked Pistorius to sit on his wooden bench in the Pretoria courtroom on Wednesday while she explained the reasons for her decision.

'It now remains for this court to impose an appropriate sentence,' Masipa said.

Earlier, Stephan Terblanche, a law professor at the University of South Africa, told AFP: 'It is very difficult to predict what sentence it is that will be imposed... This a fairly unique situation.'

Legal expert Llewellyn Curlewis, chair of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, told AFP that he expected a sentence of between 11 and 14 years.

But leading defence lawyer, Mike Hellens, who was on the shortlist to represent Pistorius following his arrest for the Valentine's Day murder in 2013, also warned against the judge 'over compensating' after her manslaughter conviction of the runner was overturned by superiors last year. 

Mr Hellens, who has known Judge Masipa for many years, said he thought she would ignore the minimum sentence guideline for 'significant and compelling reasons' and jail the 29-year-old for 'between seven and 10 years' – which would mean the runner could be free in three and a half years.

Mr Hellens predicted 'an immediate appeal' by the state if the judge – who was demonstrably moved by the disabled athlete's emotional outbursts in court – jailed him for any less than seven years.

Judge Masipa, who heard the original trial, will deliver the sentence three weeks after a court hearing that marked another episode of high drama in the long-running case.

Pistorius, sobbing heavily, hobbled on his stumps across the courtroom to demonstrate his physical vulnerability as his lawyers argued he should not return to jail on account of his anxiety disorder and depression.

But prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that the double-amputee sprinter should be given a lengthy jail term as he failed to show any remorse for the murder.

Nel also criticised Pistorius for filming a recent television interview, despite claiming to be too unwell to give evidence in court.

In the interview -- his first since the killing -- Pistorius said that he believed Steenkamp would want him to devote his life to charity rather than return to prison.

Steenkamp's father 73-year-old Barry broke down during his testimony at the sentencing hearing as he called for Pistorius to 'pay for his crime' of murdering Reeva, a model and law graduate.

Pistorius, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014, has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in December ruled that Pistorius was guilty of murder, irrespective of who was behind the door when he opened fire with a high-calibre pistol he kept under his bed.

If jailed on Wednesday, he would likely return to the hospital section of Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, separated from regular inmates.

Pistorius - who was born without calf bones - had his legs amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old so he could be fitted with prosthetic legs.

Since his release, Pistorius has lived under restrictions at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria.

He became the first Paralympian to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

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