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OJ Simpson given lengthy sentence

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OJ Simpson's apology to the Las Vegas court

Ex-US football star OJ Simpson has been jailed for up to 33 years for the kidnap and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas.

Describing Simpson as arrogant and ignorant, Judge Jackie Glass said the evidence against him was overwhelming.

He and an accomplice, Clarence Stewart, were convicted on 12 counts in October.

Simpson, eligible for parole in nine years, made an emotional plea to the court, saying he was "sorry" and "confused". His lawyer is to appeal.

In 1995, the former Buffalo Bills player was acquitted of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in what was dubbed "the trial of the century".

Emotional plea

Simpson and Stewart were among six men who seized the two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in Las Vegas' Palace Station hotel in September 2007.

The six were attempting to reclaim items linked to Simpson's sporting career that the former National Football League star said still belonged to him.

CHARGES AGAINST OJ SIMPSON
Conspiracy to commit a crime
Conspiracy to kidnap
Conspiracy to commit robbery
Two counts of first degree kidnapping
Burglary in possession of a deadly weapon
Two counts of armed robbery
Two counts of assault with a deadly weapon
Two counts of coercion with use of a deadly weapon

Four of his accomplices made plea-deals in return for testifying against Simpson, and he and Stewart were found guilty on all 12 charges brought against them.

After 13 days of testimony in October, jurors said they were convinced of the men's guilt having heard audio recordings secretly made of the robbery.

"Don't let nobody out of this room!" Simpson was heard to say on the tape, as he ordered the other men to scoop up items worth thousands of dollars.

Before sentencing on Friday, Judge Glass said "the potential for harm to occur" in the room where the robbery took place was "tremendous".

"You went to the room, you took guns... you used force, you took property... and in this state that amounts to robbery with a deadly weapon," she said.

Wearing a dark blue jail uniform and with his hands shackled to his waist, 61-year-old Simpson apologised and pleaded for leniency.

"I didn't mean to hurt anybody and I didn't mean to steal from anybody," said Simpson with a trembling voice and tears in his eyes.

"I did not know that I was doing anything illegal... I thought that I was confronting friends and retrieving my property."

But Judge Glass rejected the apology, saying Simpson's actions amounted to "much more than stupidity".

Simpson's defence lawyer Yale Galanter said Simpson would appeal the convictions.

Mr Galanter said the sentence "could have been a lot worse".

"My expectations today were that it was going to be a much higher sentence that was imposed," he said, according to AFP news agency.

'There's never closure'

After his 1995 acquittal, Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Mrs Simpson and Mr Goldman in a civil case, and ordered to pay $33.5m (23m) to Mr Goldman's family.

What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs: behind bars
Fred Goldman

During Friday's hearing, Judge Glass emphasised her sentence had nothing to do with the earlier case.

But outside court, Mr Goldman's father said he was thrilled with the lengthy sentence.

"There's never closure," said Fred Goldman. "Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs: behind bars."

Judge Glass also denied defence motions for bail pending appeal, saying both defendants posed a risk of fleeing.

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SEE ALSO
OJ Simpson convicted of robbery
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Simpson jury to consider verdict
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Jury urged to 'unmask' OJ Simpson
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OJ Simpson trial jury pick starts
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OJ Simpson freed on doubled bail
17 Jan 08 |  Americas
Murdoch cancels OJ Simpson plans
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