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Pistorius sentence sparks Twitter row over what five years really means

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This morning’s ruling sees the “Bladerunner” taken down to the cells, but will it be the final curtain for a plethora of parody Twitter accounts?

As troubled South African athlete Oscar Pistorius began serving a five-year sentence for the “culpable homicide” of his model girlfriend, social media exploded into debate over the actual meaning of its term.

First out of the traps was ubiquitous legal profession Twitter addict Jack of Kent (aka, David Allen Green), who slammed news organisations and the social media correspondents alike for failing to understand sentencing practices.

The Garden of England’s most renowned social media lawyer lambasted Reuters, the BBC, Sky News and Associated Press for suggesting that Pistorius would spend five years in prison.

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The reality — as any anally-retentive lawyer knows — is that under South African sentencing practices the “Bladerunner” is likely to spend no more than 10 months behind bars, following the determination of Judge Thokozile Masipa. Although with the state of prisons in the country, that might feel like five years.

It remains to be seen whether the final act of the 18-month saga — with the broadcast trial gripping viewers around the world – will see the curtain fall on a range of parody Twitter accounts.

Both prosecution and defence lawyers have fallen victim to the curse of the modern age, when anyone with a keyboard and an e-mail account can launch a social media diatribe in someone else’s name.

The biggest numbers go to a parody of Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux. Twitter account @Barry_Roux has nearly 30,000 followers and has tweeted a finger-numbing 42,200 times.

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Another Roux parody is a close second. @BarryRouxLaw has attracted 26,500 followers — astonishing considering that it has been far more parsimonious in its communications, having tweeted only 633 times.

At the bottom of the defence pile is @BarryRouxSA, with 497 followers and 454 tweets to its credit.

Tenacious prosecutor Gerrie Nel has attracted even more parody accounts. Leading the way is @GerrieNel_Not with 12,900 followers and more than 6,000 tweets (pictured below). Following are @Adv_GerrieNel and @Gerrie_Nel, with more than 3,000 followers and 151 tweets and about 2,400 followers and 393 tweets, respectively.

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There are two more minnow Nel parody accounts — @GerrieNelLaw and @GerrieNel_Pros — but between them they only have about 1,000 followers.

However, arguably the most controversial social media fallout from the Pistorius sentence is a hashtag trending on Twitter today — #ThingsLongerThanOscar’ssentence. One wit suggests the trial itself felt longer than Pistorius’s ultimate sentence.