Oscar Pistorius sentence ‘too lenient’

October 23, 2014, 2:43 PM GMT+0

73% of British people think that Oscar Pistorius’s sentence was too lenient – but they are divided as to whether culpable homicide was the right conviction

Oscar Pistorius began serving a five-year jail sentence for ‘culpable homicide’, or manslaughter, on Tuesday after being cleared of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot on Valentine’s Day last year. Prosecutors had argued for a minimum 10-year term, however his defence expect him to serve about 10 months in jail, with the rest being spent under house arrest.

Opinion outside the South African courtroom was apparently divided over the verdict, but a new YouGov poll finds British sentiment highly critical of the sentence.

73% of British people say the five-year sentence for Oscar Pistorius, and his assumed early release, is too lenient. Only 15% approve.

Judge Thokozile Masipa’s sentencing was under pressure from a set of complex issues in South African culture: the supposedly unsuitable prison conditions for disabled inmates, and the justice system’s ability to protect women from abuse.

Most British people (52%) think the South African system did badly in handling Pistorius’s case however, while 32% approve of the process.

But the survey also reveals that people are evenly divided over whether culpable homicide was the correct charge (42%) or the wrong decision (40%). This compares to a decisive sentiment in March, when 64% thought Pistorius was guilty of murder and 7% thought he was innocent.

The ex-athlete, the first to compete in both the Paralympic and Olympic games, is expected to be housed in a one-man cell in the hospital wing of Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru prison, thought to be most appropriate for his disability. Oscar Pistorius says he shot his girlfriend by mistake, out of fear there was an intruder in his house. Reeva Steenkamp’s family have said they are happy with the sentence.

PA images

See the full poll results