Oscar Pistorius’ six-year sentence for the “plainly gratuitous and senseless” murder of Reeva Steenkamp was so shockingly inappropriate that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) should interfere, the State has argued.
The prosecution today filed a direct application to the SCA for leave to appeal against the six-year sentence Judge Thokozile Masipa imposed on Pistorius on July 6. The Judge last month refused the state leave to appeal, saying there was no prospects of success.
The SCA in December last year overturned Judge Masipa’s ruling that Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide, found him guilty of murder and ordered that he must be sentenced afresh. At that stage he had already served 12 months of his previous five-year sentence and had been released under house arrest.
Senior prosecutor David Broughton submitted in an affidavit that Pistorius had to this day not given a rational and adequate explanation for why it was necessary to fire any shot through the toilet door of his house at the person standing behind the door, let alone four shots.
He said Judge Masipa had overemphasised the mitigating factors while giving scant consideration to the numerous major aggravating factors in the case as well as the SCA’s findings about the murder.
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He said there was no justification for Pistorius’ actions and he immediately and too readily resorted to gun violence without knowing who was behind the door or if they posed a threat to him and without firing a warning shot.
Judge Masipa also failed to deal with the fact that Reeva Steenkamp was an innocent, defenceless woman who had been standing behind and against the toilet door when the first shot ripped through her flesh, who had nowhere to hide and whose right to life and dignity was needlessly taken away by Pistorius.
“Courts are enjoined to severely punish accused persons who shoot and kill without reason. “…Society had an interest in a sentence that adequately reflected the seriousness of a gratuitous murder of a defenceless woman who must have endured unquestionable horror when the respondent fired the four shots at the toilet door.
“…The sentence does not adequately reflect that (Pistorius) regarded the life of whoever was behind the door as cheap or of little or no value,” he said.
Broughton submitted that the only logical explanation for why Judge Masipa had imposed such a shockingly light sentence was that she had maudlin sympathy with Pistorius on the basis of his disability and associated feelings of vulnerability.
Pistorius’ legal team now has a month within which to file opposing papers.