A South African appeals court has found that Oscar Pistorius did murder his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. A panel of five judges came to the ruling on Thursday after an appeal by the prosecution. This is an upgrade to the original verdict that the Paralympian was guilty of culpable homicide in the model's shooting two years ago in the early hours of Valentine's Day.
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Oscar Pistorius received a sentence of five years in October 2014
The court has ordered the original trial judge Thokozile Masipa to impose a harsher sentence – the minimum for murder is 15 years. A court can give less than 15 years if there are extenuating circumstances and a parole board can release a murder convict early for good behaviour.
Reeva's mother June Steenkamp was in court to hear this week's ruling. Oscar and his family stayed away.
The former Olympic hero is currently at his uncle's home in Pretoria serving out the rest of his sentence under house arrest. He was released from prison after serving one year behind bars out of a five-year total.
Oscar Pistorius was released on house arrest in August 2015
At his trial in 2014 the athlete said he believed that there was an intruder in the house. Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted his explanantion, ruling that he did not intend to kill his girlfriend but acted negligently and with excessive force.
But at this week's hearing Justice Lorimer Leach said that having armed himself with a high-calibre weapon, the defendant must have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might die. Justice Leach said the identity of the person was irrelevant.
Reeva's mother June Steenkamp and uncle Michael Steenkamp at the trial in September 2014
The athlete can challenge the ruling in the constitutional court but only if his lawyers can argue that his constitutional rights were violated.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO! after the original sentencing, June Steenkamp said: "We're not looking for vengeance or for him to get hurt; we're just happy because he's going to be punished for what he's done. He may come out early on good behaviour, but by the time he’s served that time, it will have taught him that he can't go around doing things like that."