Oscar Pistorius Verdict: Bladerunner Not Guilty of Murder of Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Pistorius
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts during judgement at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, September 11, 2014. Phill Magakoe/Reuters

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been found "not guilty" of murdering long-time girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

The court will resume on Friday when Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on the charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, and other firearms offences.

Masipa accepted the defence's timeline of events, ruling that the shooting took place at 3.12 in the morning, crucially making the screams of distress heard by neighbours around 3.17am those of a shocked Pistorius and not Steenkamp, meaning her killing was sudden and was unlikely to have been premeditated.

Before announcing the verdict Judge Masipa first rejected the defence's claims that Pistorius could not distinguish between right and wrong before the shooting and pointed out Pistorius's testimony made contradictory claims.

Pistorius had pleaded private self-defence, saying he "did not intend to shoot at anyone," yet earlier he was quoted three times as saying he believed there were intruders in the bathroom, ready to harm him.

Judge Thokozile Masipa
Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers her judgement in the trial of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, September 11, 2014. Phill Magakoe/Reuters

The judge then rejected the possibility of private self-defence concluding that Pistorius "armed himself with his own firearm and approached what he thought was danger with the firearm ready to fire. It would be absurd to assume he was prepared to hit the intruder over the head with it as he could have easily used a cricket bat."

Judge Masipa rejected Pistorius's actions could qualify for murder with "transferable malice" (the readiness to kill another human being).

The judge noted the accused was a "very poor" and "evasive witness", arguing his visible distress at his testimony was more concerned about the effect of what he was saying rather than "emotional distress" of reliving the incident.

After court was adjourned for lunch, judge Masipa focused on the reasons behind Pistorius firing four shots instead of one, stating that personal details about Pistorius's upbringing would be taken into account, such as the fact he saw his mother carried a gun when he was a child and was described as "paranoid" of intrusion.

Judge Masipa concluded Pistorius "acted too hastily", "used excessive force" and was "clearly" negligent.

Court was then adjourned until Friday, with no final verdict anounced.