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Oscar Pistorius: From Olympic fame to jail

Published on 21/10/2014

South African amputee sprinting star Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Here is a snapshot of the events that began on a fateful Valentine’s Day:

— FEBRUARY 2013–

14: South African police arrest Pistorius, a Paralympic and Olympic sprinter nicknamed the “Blade Runner”, for the killing of Steenkamp, shot four times with one of his guns at his Pretoria house.

15: Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder “in the strongest terms”.

19: Pistorius claims in an affidavit that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and was “filled with horrible fear” that someone had sneaked into his home.

He fired through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors term a “premeditated” murder.

20: Witnesses testify they heard arguing, a woman screaming and gunfire at Pistorius’s house the night of the slaying, police tell the court.

21: US sportswear giant Nike suspends its contract with Pistorius.

South African police name a top detective to the case after it emerges that the officer initially assigned to it faces attempted murder charges.

22: Pistorius is granted bail set at one million rand ($100,000, 75,000 euros).


28: A court clears Pistorius for international travel, easing his strict bail terms.


14: Pistorius is seen partying at a trendy Johannesburg hangout, media report.

— MAY —

20: Pistorius will not race this season, his agent says.

— JUNE —

28: Pistorius is to resume limited training for his mental wellbeing, but does not plan a return to competition, his family announces.

— JANUARY 2014–

23: Pistorius’s lawyers and Steenkamp’s family are discussing an out-of-court financial settlement, a lawyer says.


25: A judge rules that most of Pistorius’s trial can be broadcast live, but not his testimony or that of witnesses who ask not to be filmed.


3: The trial opens in Pretoria, before an army of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who told the court she heard “terrible screams” from a woman and shots.

13: Pistorius vomits when a picture of the dead model’s body was flashed on the court’s television screens.


7-15: Pistorius takes the witness stand and begins with a tearful apology to the family of the woman he shot dead.

This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by several bouts of tears and breaks in the session.

Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.

— JUNE —

30: After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude that Pistorius was not suffering from mental illness.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of murder.


7: State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in his final argument before the court, accuses Pistorius of concocting an alibi that led to a “snowball effect” of lies.

8: The trial concludes with closing arguments from the defence.


12: Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting Steenkamp, but is cleared of murder.


17: The prosecutor calls for a 10-year prison term, while the defence requests a non-custodial sentence served under house arrest.

21: Judge Thokozile Masipa sentences Pistorius to a maximum of five years in jail, the fallen sprinter is taken to Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru prison.