Henri van Breda during sentencing. Photo: African News Agency/ANA
Family murderer Henri van Breda’s “cold-blooded” crimes rank highly among the most gruesome of cases, according to Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai.

Van Breda, 23, was handed three life sentences, one for each of the murders of his mother Teresa, father Martin and brother, Rudi.

He also received 15 years for the attempted murder of his sister Marli, and another year for defeating the ends of justice.

Van Breda kept his composure throughout the court proceedings and on one occasion laughed slightly when a photographer was trying to get a close-up shot of him.

Martin’s brother, Andre van Breda, did not comment on his nephew’s sentence yesterday.

Judge Desai said that even though Van Breda was relatively young and had no previous convictions, his conduct was severe.

“Nothing has been said to mitigate these crimes. The violence was excessive and gratuitous, and it was intended to cause massive harm. We have no explanation for what happened and you have displayed no remorse,” said Judge Desai.

Van Breda’s legal representative, Pieter Botha, said they would appeal both the conviction and sentence.

Their application for leave to appeal is expected on June 27.

Provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula welcomed the sentence and congratulated the investigation and prosecution teams on their work.

“At the finalisation of the case, the court accepted that from the crime scene there were no fingerprints, foreign DNA, forced entry to the property or breach of security to the De Zalze Estate.

“The case in main relied on circumstantial evidence that saw the crime scene secured for 30 days, DNA analysed and the only surviving victim taking long to recover.

“The SAPS hopes the sentence will also boost the morale of police officials who on a daily basis venture out in an effort to ensure communities are safe,” Jula said.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila hailed the police and prosecutors.

The NPA would oppose Van Breda’s application for leave to appeal, Ntabazalila said.

Should Judge Desai refuse Van Breda’s application, he has the right to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal to appeal and the NPA would oppose that as well.

Van Breda was found guilty earlier this week after a marathon trial which lasted several months.

The State had disputed Van Breda’s version that a balaclava-clad, axe-wielding intruder had entered his family home on the morning of January 27, 2015.

Judge Desai tried several times to get a motive from Van Breda as to what drove him to kill his family, but an answer was never forthcoming.