3 life terms handed to axe murderer Henri van Breda

By AFP 7 June 2018
Henri van Breda was immediately taken into custody upon Judge Desai’s decision (Photo by Rebecca Davis)

Axe murderer Henri van Breda has been sentenced to three life sentences for the murder of three of his family members, 15 years for attempted murder of his sister and one year for obstructing the course of justice.

The sentences will run concurrently.

Judge Siraj Desai said: “These attacks display a high level of innate cruelty and an almost unprecedented disregard for the welfare of one’s own family, one’s parents and siblings. Each murderous attack upon a family member constitutes a very serious crime, warranting the severest penalty possible.

“Viewing all these acts cumulatively, it must rank extremely high on the ladder of serious crime.”

He also said no argument had been advanced to mitigate the impact of the crime.

“The violence was excessive and gratuitous.

“We have no explanation from you. No substantial and compelling circumstances have been placed before us. There appeared to be none,” Desai said.

Shortly after sentencing, Van Breda indicated he would appeal. A date was set down for June 27.

Crimes premeditated

Van Breda was last month found guilty of murdering his parents and brother, attempting to kill his sister and obstructing the course of justice.

Desai had listened to arguments from the State and defence in mitigation and aggravation on Tuesday during sentencing proceedings.

He said he considered the crimes to have been premeditated, as Van Breda would have had to arm himself before bludgeoning Rudi, Martin and Teresa to death and trying to murder Marli. Premeditated murder carries a prescribed sentence of life imprisonment.

Prosecutor Susan Galloway had argued that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances which would warrant deviating from the prescribed minimum sentence.

Van Breda showed no remorse, Galloway had insisted, and Marli had survived because of a miracle, not because of mercy shown by her brother.

There was no prescribed sentence for attempted murder and the State argued that a sentence similar to the one for his parents’ and brother’s murders be handed down for the attack on Marli as it was committed during the same incident with the same weapon and intent.

Defence lawyer advocate Pieter Botha said his client had no previous convictions and had been young at the time of the brutal killings. DM


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