Oscar Pistorius found not guilty of murder

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The paralympian wept in court as he was cleared of the murder of his girlfriend, however now must wait until Friday to find out whether he is guilty of manslaughter.

Judge Thokozile Masipa told Pretoria High Court there was “no doubt” when Pistorius fired his gun “he acted unlawfully”, and she will rule whether he is guilty of the lesser charge – known as culpable homicide – tomorrow.

At the end of today’s hearing, she found the athlete had acted “negligently, “too hastily” and used “excessive force” while failing to take steps to avoid the resultant death.

Judge Masipa stopped short of giving an actual verdict on manslaughter – which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison – and adjourned proceedings for the day.

Earlier, she cleared Pistorius of both premeditated and second-degree murder, telling the trial “there are not enough facts” to support the prosecution case that he had intended to kill Ms Steenkamp.

The judge said the charge of premeditated murder relied on “circumstantial evidence” from the state, and that the State had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder.

“There are just not enough facts to support such a finding,” she said.

Pistorius was charged with one count of murder, two of illegally discharging a firearm – which is unrelated to Ms Steenkamp’s death – and one of illegally possessing ammunition.

Pistorius, had his head down and was visibly shaking, distressed and crying in court as the judge recounted the events of Valentine’s Day last year.

The prosecution had suggested Pistorius stormed down his bedroom corridor after his frightened girlfriend in a jealous rage and deliberately shot her through the toilet door, however Pistorius insisted he was terrified and felt excessively vulnerable due to his disability and shot Ms Steenkamp in a tragic accident, believing her to be an intruder.

South Africa has no jury system so Judge Masipa is deciding on the verdicts with the help of two assessors.

Proceedings began earlier in the day with the judge outlining the facts of the case before the testimonies of each of the 37 witnesses who gave evidence at the six-month murder trial. Some 21 witnesses testified for the prosecution and 16 for the defence.

The judge described Pistorius as a”‘poor and evasive witness” who was initially composed, then “contradicted himself” under cross examination.

She said claims by the defence that police contaminated evidence and removed items from the crime scene “paled into insignificance” while also rejecting claims by the prosecution that the relationship between Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp was “on the rocks” and counter claims by the defence that they were “a loving couple.”

“In my view, none of this evidence from the State and defence proves anything,” she said.

“Normal relationships are dynamic and unpredictable most of the time, while human beings are fickle.

“Neither the evidence of a loving relationship, nor a relationship turned sour, can assist this court to determine whether the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased.”

The case will continue tomorrow in South Africa.