By Gary Anderson

Oscar Pistorius enters court today as his sentencing hearing for killing Reeva Steenkamp continues in Pretoria ©Getty ImagesProsecutor Gerrie Nel has warned Judge Thokozile Masipa that she risks unleashing a public backlash if six-time Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius escapes a jail term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Nel described a suggestion from probation officer Joel Maringa that Pistorius be held under house arrest for three years and undertake community service, as "shockingly inappropriate" and in court today he urged Judge Masipa that that punishment "cannot be considered".

"If the court sentence is too light, and society loses trust in the court, they will take the law into their own hands," warned Nel on the third day of the sentencing hearing in Pretoria

"That's what the court has to guard against."

Last month, Judge Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide when he shot dead Steenkamp at their Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

During the third day of the hearing, Nel continued his cross-examination of defence witness Annette Vergeer, a social worker.

During the exchanges, Nel dismissed Vergeer's claims that Pistorius would be "a lot more vulnerable than the normal man" in jail and said anything other than time behind bars would not take the 27-year-old "out of his comfort zone".

Nel then called the prosecution's first witness to the stand, Kim Martin, a cousin of Steenkamp.

Martin recalled how Steenkamp was the first baby that she had ever held and described her as "hard working" and "meticulous" while adding that "family was everything" to her late cousin.

She went to reveal that Steenkamp had taken up modelling to support her parents financially.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has warned of a public backlash if Oscar Pistorius escapes jail for killing his girlfriend ©Getty ImagesProsecutor Gerrie Nel has warned of a public backlash if Oscar Pistorius escapes jail for killing his girlfriend ©Getty Images

Following her evidence, Nel requested an early adjournment to today's proceedings, which was granted by Judge Masipa, claiming that Martin was "too emotional" for cross-examination from Pistorius' defence team.

The hearing is expected to last up to a week, and Judge Masipa can impose a jail-time of anything up to 15 years on Pistorius or hand out a suspended sentence or fine.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Steenkamp family issued a statement today following revelations that Pistorius had been paying them ZAR6,000 (£340/$542/€428) a month from March 2013 to September 2014.

Dup de Bruyn confirmed that Steenkamp's family would be paying back any money received from Pistorius.

"After Ms Steenkamp was killed, the parents were in financial difficulties," said de Bruyn.

"We were contacted soon afterwards by Mr Pistorius' lawyers with an offer that Mr Pistorius would contribute an amount...towards the parents' rental and living expenses."

De Bruyn also revealed that he had been made an offer of ZAR375,000 (£21,200/$34,000/€26,800) from the Pistorius legal team on a possible civil settlement.

"When the parents [of Steenkamp] were made aware of this offer, they considered it carefully but decided, for various reasons, that they did not want any payment from Mr Pistorius," continued de Bruyn

"This is also why we were instructed to advise that no civil claim would be instituted."

The hearing continues tomorrow.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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