Henri van Breda guilty of triple axe murders
21 May 2018
Henri van Breda has been found guilty on all counts in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
Van Breda, 23, pleaded not guilty to axing his parents and brother to death, seriously injuring his sister Marli, and defeating the ends of justice. Judge Siraj Desai found him guilty on all counts.
He alleged that an intruder, wearing a balaclava, gloves and dark clothing, was behind the attack, and that he had heard other voices, of people speaking Afrikaans, in the family's Stellenbosch home in January 2015.
Van Breda claimed that, after a fight with the axe-wielding intruder who was also armed with a knife, the man had escaped.
His defence team, led by Advocate Pieter Botha, at the end of the trial insisted the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt that the Van Bredas' middle child axed his family to death, pointing out that it had no eyewitness accounts or direct evidence and its case was circumstantial.
But prosecutor Susan Galloway said there was no motive for someone - such as a hitman - to commit this crime.
State experts also found it likely his injuries were self-inflicted. - News24
10 quotes that sealed Henri van Breda's fate
Judge Siraj Desai handed down his judgment in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, convicting Henri van Breda of three counts of murder, one of attempted murder and one of defeating the ends of justice.
Van Breda had pleaded not guilty to axing his parents and brother to death, seriously injuring his sister Marli, and defeating the ends of justice. Instead, he claimed that intruders had entered their De Zalze Golf Estate home in Stellenbosch in 2015. Marli survived the attack but sustained serious brain injuries and suffered from retrograde amnesia.
Sentencing proceedings are set to begin on June 5.
Here are 10quotes from Desai's judgment that sealed Van Breda's fate:
1. "An axe would be a peculiar choice of weapon for a burglar or thief to take along to the intended crime scene."
2. "If the intention of the intruder(s) was to kill the occupants of the house, it would be senseless not to bring a weapon along. The alleged intruder clearly planned the commission of the crimes by wearing gloves, dark clothes and a balaclava mask. Laughing whilst attacking family members certainly appears to be strange behaviour for a random assailant. It can possibly be expected from a perpetrator with a personal issue."
3. "The degree of violence displayed towards the deceased victims and Marli seems to be excessive."
4. "No evidence exists to indicate a specific motive for killing any of the ... family members, whether they were killed by an unknown intruder or the accused."
5. "It is inconceivable that an unknown perpetrator would gain entry to the estate and house with great planning and effort, seriously injure the entire family in that manner for no apparent reason (except for the accused) and flee again without taking obvious valuable items from the house."
6. "Whether an intruder entered the house armed with an axe or the perpetrator armed himself with an axe from the pantry inside the house, the attack on the presumably sleeping family members on the first floor of the house and in the early hours of the morning, had to be planned. The weapon had to be taken to the first floor; it would not have been readily at hand at the time of the attack."
7. "The cut marks on [Van Breda's] chest were superficial and non-fatal. Incisions had an equal depth, were parallel and avoided sensitive areas like nipples. The chest injuries were in a reachable area for self-infliction."
8. "The bottom line is that it is unlikely that the intruder would have left finger prints with gloved hands. Only the accused's thumb print was on the knife and Rudi's DNA."
9. "The accused mentioned one intruder only in his statement to the police. In his plea explanation, the accused stated that he recalled hearing what sounded like angry voices from more than one person, somewhere else in the house after the attacker had fled the bedroom."
10. "It seems to be unlikely that Sasha (the family dog) would not have barked at intruders in the middle of the night ... it is also unlikely that she would not have barked during the attack upstairs as it could not have been a quiet event in which her owners were involved."