Reeva Steenkamp?s sister has watched with growing disbelief as Oscar Pistorius?s lawyers insist he deserves special treatment.

Day after day, as the Olympian?s defence team demanded house arrest instead of jail for the shooting of his model girlfriend, community service instead of hard labour, Simone Cowburn waited for sense to prevail.

Now, however, she is deeply worried. Following almost a week of legal argument, the 49-year-old fears the judge has been swayed by Pistorius?s highly paid legal team.

Because she did not have had the chance to appear in court, Simone is now making a deeply personal plea to Judge Thokozile Masipa: hand down a heavy prison sentence to show violence against women will not be tolerated and to show that disability should not result in a softer punishment.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Ms Cowburn says: ?Oscar deserves prison. How can he just stay in the luxury of his house after taking somebody?s life. What is house arrest if not just wrong?

?Community service and house arrest are ridiculous. These should be for people who are stealing or other minor offences. Not shooting somebody. Reeva deserves justice.

?This case will set a precedent all around the world. We do not want other men to get off just because Oscar Pistorius has. It is still homicide.

?If a man steals a block of cheese here, he can get 20 years and that is for theft. But if you take somebody?s life like Oscar has, you can get house arrest. It is not right. He has got to do time. It is hard to say how long he should get. Ten or twenty years or whatever.?

Simone, who was born in Britain and moved from her home in Cambridgeshire to care for her parents in the aftermath of Reeva?s death, is particularly concerned that Pistorius?s disability is being exploited. The 27-year-old ?blade runner? had both his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11-months old after being born without a fibula, the main bone in the lower leg.

?I don?t think much of the story of him being disabled and that there is no room for disability in prison and that he must get house arrest

?It is not right. He has been on bail since the shooting. He has been free to go anywhere he wants? chatting up other women.

?He went into the Olympics and competed against other [able-bodied] athletes and he shouldn?t use his disability as an excuse now. He should be punished like any other able bodied person. He shouldn?t be given privileges now.

?[Are they saying that] if you are missing an arm or a leg or whatever, you don?t go to jail? They should put him in a wheelchair. There are people with disabilities in prison.

?I was in court and he showed no remorse whatsoever. The crying, the vomiting and all that type of thing were because he realises he has done wrong, but I believe it was all an act.?

Pistorius killed his model girlfriend Reeva, 29, by firing at her four times as she cowered inside a locked bathroom in his multimillion house on Valentine?s Day last year. He insisted throughout the 48-day trial that he shot his girlfriend of three months by accident fearing an intruder had entered his home as they slept.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide on September 12 but was cleared of murder, and will be sentenced in Pretoria tomorrow. As there is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide, the judge could decide to give Pistorius a suspended sentence, which he could serve at home. This could then be cancelled if he passes a probation period.

Community service is another option but chief prosecutor Gerrie Nell has attacked this as ?shockingly inappropriate?. Legal experts suggest the maximum prison sentence Pistorius could receive is 15 years but believe this is unlikely ? partly because of persuasive arguments his legal team have made that his disability and psychological weakness will make him a target of South Africa?s violent jail gangs.

Probation officer Annette Vergeer, who was paid by the defence, told the court that prison would ?break him?. ?His disability and state of mind would cause his detention to be an excessive punishment with no benefits to him, society and the deceased?s family,? she said.

But such claims make Simone?s blood boil. She is incandescent at the suggestion that Pistorius?s prosthetic legs afford him a protection that Reeva, was never given, and remains convinced that her little sister was the victim of murder, despite the lack of evidence and judgment of the court.

?It has been so gruelling? it looks like might get off. That is wrong. It is sending out utterly the wrong message.

?Reeva should have been the first person he thought of if there was an intruder. Why didn?t he just grab her and get out of the house if the so-called intruder was in the bathroom?


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