‘SAVAGE, VICIOUS’: Judge unleashes on triple axe murderer

 

FORMER Sunshine Coast schoolboy Henri van Breda has been given three life sentences for the murders of his parents and brother in South Africa.

Van Breda, 23, was also given a 15-year sentence for the attempted murder of his sister and an additional 12 months for obstruction of justice.

He appeared emotionless as the judge handed the sentences down for the horrific killings at his family's luxury home in Stellenbosch.

Lawyers for van Breda indicated they will appeal the sentence.

van Breda killed his parents Martin and Teresa as well as his brother Rudi, and attempting to murder his sister Marli in their estate in South Africa, one of two homes they had maintained on opposite sides of the world.

The van Bredas had relocated to South Africa for business reasons, but kept their sprawling Buderim property intact with a view to returning to the idyllic Sunshine Coast lifestyle in future.

They had bought what was then a seven bedroom, seven bathroom, two car space property in 2012 for $2.2m, with the 3.86 hectare property including development approval for six additional residential lots.

The van Breda's luxury escape was listed at $2.49 million last year.

It was on the market just three months before it was snapped up for $140,000 less than the asking price, selling to an investment company for $2.35m in April last year.

South Africa's You magazine showing family axe killer Henri van Breda and his girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg. Picture:  You
South Africa's You magazine showing family axe killer Henri van Breda and his girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg. Picture: You

JUDGE SAYS RAMPAGE 'SAVAGE AND VICIOUS'

Judge Siraj Desai described 23-year-old Henri Van Breda's January 2015 rampage as "savage and vicious" with "an almost unprecedented degree of disregard for one's family".

"Each murderous attack on a family member is a severe crime and warrants the severest punishment," he told the packed Western Cape High Court in Cape Town.

"They were attacks involving a high degree of uncontrolled violence. The victims were unarmed (and) they faced an axe-wielding son or brother, probably not expecting the worst."

"We have heard no explanation ... you have shown no remorse," he said. "I'm searching for some human factor that to some degree diminishes the sheer seriousness of these crimes."

"There must be something ... I'm appealing to (him) - put before me some reason for these attacks," he said.

Van Breda was led away by court officers as his girlfriend watched on from the public gallery.

Van Breda had denied murdering his 21-year-old brother Rudi and parents Martin, 54, and Teresa, 55, and leaving his sister Marli struggling with near-fatal injuries to her head, neck and throat after the bloody attack in January 2015.

The trial generated global interest in how a privileged son unleashed such a brutal attack on his family, whose fortune - estimated at $16 million - was derived from property.

During the trial, Van Breda had told the court that a late-night intruder had entered the family's luxury residence on the highly-guarded De Zalze Golf Estate.

Henri van Breda (far left) with his parents and siblings. He murdered his mother, father and brother  with an axe and left his sister with near fatal injuries.
Henri van Breda (far left) with his parents and siblings. He murdered his mother, father and brother with an axe and left his sister with near fatal injuries.

His claim had echoes of the defence used by Oscar Pistorius, who said he thought a burglar was hiding in an ensuite bathroom to explain why he fired four times through the door, killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

But judge Desai systematically took apart the defence case in a five-hour summary of the trial - and then read a verdict that he said "as a family man, it's difficult" to deliver.

Defence advocate Pieter Botha had called for a "merciful" sentencing, arguing that Van Breda was a first-time offender who was "barely 20" when he killed his family.

He said Van Breda had been in counselling for six months, was "appropriately emotional" when the murders were mentioned, and was taking medication for depression and epilepsy.