Paddy Power has defended its offer (see above) to refund bets if Pistorius is not found guilty of murdering his girlfriend.

The online gambling says the much-maligned print ad, which promotes a “money back if he walks” offer for bets on the outcome of the athlete’s trial, is just another in its “long-history” of news-jacking stunts.

The attention the ad has garnered, despite being negative, has boosted the brand’s profile because of the global sports stars’ trial, which started earlier today (3 March).

A spokesman for the business says: “Paddy Power has a long history of offering odds on global news events and the Oscar Pistorius trial is no different. Given intense global media interest, including a dedicated 24-hour television channel promising ‘round-the-clock’ coverage, Paddy Power is giving punters the chance to put their money where their mouth is for what will undoubtedly be the most reported on, and talked about, news story of the year.”

Pistorius is accused of the pre-meditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after he shot and killed her last year. He has already admitted firing the shots, but claims he mistook her for a burglar.

Paddy Power has been slammed by many including Labour MP Tom Watson for being insensitive. The anger has boiled over to complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority as well as a petition set-up on calling for it to be pulled.

The Olympian is one of global sport’s most recognised stars and was the first Paralympic athlete to compete against able-bodied athletes. The fallout from the murder case, however, has seen his brand value plummet with sponsors Nike and Oakley cutting their ties.