NEWYORK: Former US footballer OJ Simpson was jailed for 15 years yesterday for kidnapping and armed robbery, 13 years to the day after he was cleared of double murder in America's "trial of the century".
Simpson and his co-defendant and former golfing friend Clarence "CJ" Stewart were convicted in October of 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
The former American football star was found guilty of holding up two sports memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station hotel and casino in Las Vegas before stealing from them last September. Simpson will be eligible for parole after six years. Stewart received the same sentence.
Simpson's lawyers appealed for clemency before an emotional Simpson stood up to say he was sorry. Wearing a blue prison suit, he said: "This was the first time I had an opportunity to catch these guys red-handed who were stealing my property.
"I did not mean to hurt anyone, I did not mean to steal anything, just my own stuff," Simpson said. "I just wanted my personal things back ... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt anybody."
The judge made it clear that she was sentencing Simpson solely for the case in Las Vegas and not for any of his past actions. "I'm not here to sentence Mr Simpson for what happened previously," she said. "I'm not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else."
During the trial, she had warned the all-white jury against trying to punish Simpson over the death of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.
Simpson achieved international notoriety when he was cleared of murdering his former wife and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles in 1995. The verdict of the mainly black jury divided America along racial lines.