Convicted murderer Henri van Breda during sentencing proceedings in the Western Cape High Court. PHOTO: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Photo

Cape Town - Convicted murderer Henri van Breda has been handed three life sentences for the 2015 murders of his parents and older brother, and 15 years for the attempted murder of his sister.

Passing sentence, Judge Siraj Desai pointed out that the victims must have been taken by surprise at the deadly attack by their son and brother. Desai said the attacks displayed "an almost unprecedented disregard for the welfare of the family". The judge pointed out that the violence of the crime was ëxcessive and gratuitous" and "intended to cause maximum harm".

Earlier this week the State argued in aggravation of sentence that the 23-year-old Henri Van Breda had shown no remorse for the January 2015 murders at the Van Breda family home in the De Zalze security estate in Stellenbosch.

The State said that his sister Marli Van Breda, who was 16 at the time of the attack and barely survived, has to grow up alone with the knowledge that her own brother killed her family.

Throughout the trial, Van Breda maintained his innocence, claiming instead that a laughing, axe-wielding attacker, also armed with a knife, was behind the murders.

However, Judge Desai dismissed his version as "nonsensical" and found him guilty on three counts of murder, one of attempted murder, as well as defeating the ends of justice.

During sentencing proceedings, Judge Desai had said he wanted to at least consider any mitigating circumstances when considering sentence, but Defence Advocate Piet Botha said he could argue nothing more than the youthfulness of the accused and the fact that he had no prior convictions, as his client still maintained his innocence.

African News Agency/ANA