FORMER Paralympian Oscar Pistorius now faces 15 years behind bars after a court denied his application to appeal his murder conviction, South African media reports.
The double amputee, who found international fame during the 2012 Summer Olympics, was convicted of shooting dead his mode girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - whose mum June is from Blackburn - on Valentine's Day 2013.
Pistorius was nicknamed 'The Blade Runner', became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men's 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races.
Pistorius said he had mistaken Reeva for an intruder hiding in the bathroom of his gated Pretoria home, but was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial the following year, He was found guilty of culpable homicide. He received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction.
Pistorius's culpable homicide conviction was overturned for a stronger conviction of murder by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last December in Bloemfontein.
The minimum sentence for murder is 15 years, unless he can provide substantial and compelling reasons to deviate from this prescribed sentence.
Marius du Toit, a defence lawyer and former prosecutor, told South African news channel News24, he believed the High Court in Pretoria may deviate from the minimum sentence, but this did not mean that Pistorius would sit in jail for a long time.
He said: "To be honest, circumstances of this case are so unique. It wasn't a spousal abuse that ended up in a murder. This was a mistaken identity of a burglar and being reckless in respect of the life of the perceived burglar.
"Those set of facts are so unique that the court will deviate from [the minimum sentence], in my view, and find substantial and compelling reasons in his favour and also the fact that he has already served a period of time."
Du Toit said Pistorius could find himself going to jail for 12 years instead of 15.
The Constitutional Court dismissed Pistorius' application for leave to appeal his conviction because of a "lack of prospects of success".
Du Toit said Pistorius could not change his conviction, however, he could appeal his sentence.
He added: "If [the court] imposes 12 or 15 years he can, of course, appeal that sentence but the conviction of murder will stand, which means Oscar is guilty of murder and that's the end of the line for him."
Pistorius served one-sixth of his five-year sentence in prison and was released in October to serve the remainder under correctional supervision.
He will be sentenced on April 18.