South African Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend.
He was taken to jail immediately on Wednesday after being sentenced for the 2013 murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius stood and faced Judge Thokozile Masipa as she announced the sentence in a South African courtroom.
Pistorius was facing a possible 15-year jail term for shooting Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door at his home, but Masipa said substantial and compelling circumstances existed in the double-amputee Olympic runner’s case to give him a lesser sentence.
Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, were present in the courtroom, which was packed with relatives of both Pistorius and Steenkamp and other observers.
In reading out the sentence, Judge Masipa said Pistorius was a “fallen hero.”
“Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” Masipa said in her ruling.
The sentencing is the latest act of a three-and-a-half year legal drama that has often played out on live television and shown the fall from grace of a runner once viewed as an inspiration to many for overcoming his disability. Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old because of a congenital defect.
He made history by running at the 2012 Olympics on his carbon-fiber running blades, and was one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.
Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV star, in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013 by shooting her multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home. Pistorius maintained he killed Steenkamp by mistake thinking she was an intruder hiding in the bathroom.
Prosecutors charged that he killed her intentionally after the couple argued.
In 2014, Pistorius was acquitted of murder by Masipa following a dramatic seven-month trial. He was instead convicted of manslaughter and served one year in prison.
His conviction was upgraded to murder last year when prosecutors appealed to South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.