Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria / Photo: SAPA

South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius must serve at least three more years in prison for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 2013.

Double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who carried the South African flag at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony‚ was sentenced to a six-year prison term for the model's murder by Judge Thokozile Masipa at the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday morning, a departure from the prescribed 15-year jail term.

Judge Masipa said there were compelling and substantial circumstances which allowed her to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence.

According to the South African Criminal Procedure Act‚ he must serve 50 percent of his murder sentence before he can be considered for possible placement on parole.

Oscar Pistorius was released into correctional supervision last year after spending close to one year in prison for his previous sentence of five years for culpable homicide‚ which was changed to murder on appeal.

In her remarks, Judge Masipa said there are a number of aggravating factors when choosing the length of a custodial sentence, but that they are outweighed by mitigating factors such as Pistorius' remorse and rehabilitation.

She highlighted ‘misperceptions’ which emerged through the trial, such as that Pistorius had an argument with Steenkamp on the night of her death.

“Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” Masipa said. “I am of the view that a long term in prison will not serve justice.”