Convicted murderer Henri van Breda. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency (ANA)
Convicted murderer Henri van Breda. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency (ANA)

VanBreda: Appeal's dismissal 'not the last word' as defence will petition SCA

By Catherine Rice Time of article published Aug 20, 2018

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Cape Town - Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai took less than five minutes to refuse Henri Van Breda's application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence. 

Desai presided over the trial that stretched over a 66-day period and in May convicted the 23-year-old of the January 2015 triple axe murders of his parents and brother, the attempted murder of his sister and defeating the ends of justice. 

He sentenced him to three life sentences, 15 years for attempted murder and one year for defeating the ends of justice, and ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

Last week, after hearing the defence's arguments in their bid for an appeal, Judge Desai said one rarely gets a case against an accused as strong as this one. 

“This case fits like a mosaic, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle … everything fits together.”

After considering defence lawyer Piet Botha's arguments, Desai remained adamant that no compelling reasons had been advanced for an appeal to be heard. 

Desai said the State had established "conclusively" that Van Breda was responsible for the commission of the crimes.

"The key pillars of the State's case provides conclusive evidence of his guilt and are in effect unassailable."

He said a lesser sentence would not have been appropriate "in light of the heinous nature of the offences". Furthermore, there was an absence of mitigating factors other than youthfulness and a lack of previous convictions. 

"Hopefully this is the last word on the case," he said.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway and defence lawyer Piet Botha at the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Catherine Rice/African News Agency (ANA)

But defence lawyer Piet Botha confirmed to journalists that it won't be. Botha will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein and file papers within 15 days. If the SCA refuses the application for leave to appeal, there will be no other recourse and Van Breda will have to accept his fate behind bars.

Van Breda proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial and told the court that at least one, possibly two intruders, were behind the murders. 

Judge Desai dismissed his version when he convicted him in May and said it was "nonsensical" that intruders would have entered the family home, and fled without taking anything.

In his judgment, he described Van Breda as a "cold-blooded killer" and said the attacks on the family members were carried out with the intent to kill. 

African  News Agency/ANA

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