Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius should not be sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as he was fearing for his life when he fired the shots that killed her, his defence has claimed. Defence lawyer Barry Roux presented his final arguments during the third day of the sentence hearing. He claimed his client did not intend to kill Steenkamp, who was found dead in Pistorius's home in Pretoria, South Africa, on 14 February 2013.

"The fact that he did not fire chest height but lower, will this now be culpable homicide or dolus eventualis? It could be believed that a rational person could have fired a warning shot," Roux said.

"But that does not mean that he didn't believe Reeva was in the bedroom, and that an intruder was in the toilet. He was guilty of being irrational, that's it. The accused tried frantically to save the deceased's life."

Roux also claimed that Pistorius already suffered "heavy losses" since 2013 as he will not be able to resume his career.

During the hearing, the prosecution called its last witness, Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martens.

"It's unfair what our family has been put through. Exposed to the media, sometimes have to defend ourselves," Martens said. She added she did not believe the true version of the murder came out.

Pistorius originally served 10 months of a five-and-a-half-year sentence after being found guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Steenkamp at his home. The conviction was later upgraded to murder following an appeal by prosecutors.

During the appeal hearing on 3 December, Justice Eric Leach read the murder verdict on behalf of a five-judge-panel at the Bloemfontein Supreme Court. He described the case as "a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions" and said that the previous ruling was fundamentally flawed.

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius breaks down at the Pretoria High Court on the second day of his pre-sentencing hearing (14 June 2016) to send him back to jail for murdering Reeva Steenkamp AFP