REEVA Steenkamp's parents last night described their "disbelief" at the acquittal of Oscar Pistorius for murder, voicing their anger for the first time since his trial began six months ago.
Barry and June Steenkamp, whose daughter died instantly when Pistorius shot her through a locked lavatory door last year, said they were shocked that he escaped a murder charge.
"It doesn't add up," said Mrs Steenkamp, composed, but evidently bitterly disappointed.
Holding her husband's hand in a hotel room hours after the not guilty verdict was read out, she told the American television channel NBC: "She died a horrible death. A horrible, painful, terrible death. And she suffered, you know?
"I just don't feel that this is the right sentence. They believe his story, and I don't believe that story - that's the difference. And I can't believe that they believe it was an accident."
In a separate interview with ITV News Mr Steenkamp said: "It's a funny thing to say, or a thing a person shouldn't say, to see a man there with the status that he had in the world, to see somebody standing there so pathetic.
"You actually feel deep down, you know, he could have been prevented. You actually feel sorry for him. I understand that he is sorry he's done it and this and that.
"As I said, there is still something missing. I think there was more to the whole story, you know, coming up to the actual shooting, the killing," he said.
But Thokozile Masipa, the judge in the case, accepted that Pistorius did not intend to kill the 29-year-old law graduate and model, and could conceivably have mistaken her, in the dead of night, for an intruder.
The judge believed that Pistorius was terrified for his life, and thought Steenkamp was safely in bed when he fired four bullets through the wooden door. She ruled that the only possible verdict was culpable homicide - or manslaughter, in the Irish law lexicon - which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and may even lead to Pistorius serving only a community service.
Meanwhile, a shattered Oscar Pistorius descended the steps from the courtroom to the underground cells yesterday, after Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her verdict in his murder trial. But despite the grimness of his surroundings, Pistorius must, through his exhaustion, have felt elation.
For Judge Masipa found him not guilty of murder - and his time in the cells was less than an hour, while the court had a break before agreeing once more to release him on bail until sentencing.
"Oscar Pistorius can count himself flippin' lucky," was the succinct verdict of one lawyer outside the courtroom yesterday.
Instead of conviction for murder, which can carry a 25-year prison sentence, Pistorius was found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide - manslaughter, in Irish legal terminology. When he is sentenced in October, he can receive a maximum term of 15 years, with some legal experts saying he may spend as few as five years behind bars. He could even escape prison altogether, and instead perform community service.
"We would really like to show how grateful we are to Judge Masipa, who has found Oscar not guilty," said Arnold Pistorius, the sprinter's uncle. "It's a big verdict."
Addressing a packed courtroom in Pretoria - which only hours previously had seen the 27-year-old cleared of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - Mr Pistorius told the hastily-assembled press conference that the family remain convinced of the Olympic athlete's innocence. Oscar claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, and thus shot in terror four times through the locked lavatory door.
"We always knew the facts of the matter and we never had any doubt in Oscar's version of this tragic incident," he said.
"We respect the fact that the legal process is not over and must always be run in the course of justice and futhermore, a tragic event like this has no victors... we as a family remain deeply affected by this devastating tragic event."
"It won't bring Reeva back but our hearts still go out to Reeva's family and friends," Mr Pistorius added. (© The Daily Telegraph)
One memory of Oscar Pistorius is abiding. He was bounding with improbable grace on his carbon-fibre prostheses around a municipal track in Gemona, as the summer rain fell in torrents and as the mayor of this somnolent town in Italy’s Friulian mountains let it be known that the lanes had been laid especially for their guest of honour.