“One rarely gets a case as strong as this against the accused”, he told defence lawyer Piet Botha yesterday.
Van Breda, 23, was convicted in May of the 2015 axe murders of his parents and older brother; attempted murder of his younger sister, Marli; and defeating the ends of justice.
He received three life sentences, 15 years for attempted murder and a year for defeating the ends of justice. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Botha argued that Van Breda had been convicted and sentenced based on circumstantial evidence. “We are faced with a very young person spending the rest of his life in jail, with only circumstantial evidence against him.”
Botha said there was a reasonable prospect that another court would come to a different conclusion.
But Judge Desai countered: “Most criminal trials rely on circumstantial evidence.” The defence was not relying on “an irregularity”, but rather saying “the onus was not discharged”, he said.
Botha argued that a court of appeal might give more weight to concessions made by blood spatter expert Captain Marius Joubert, who testified that the fact that Marli’s blood had not been found on the axe was “inexplicable”.
“It doesn’t require a quantum leap that a court of appeal may find differently,” Botha contended.
He said another court might give more weight to the defence’s expert witness, who testified about flaws in security at the De Zalze Estate in Stellenbosch, where the family resided.
More weight could be attached to Dr James Butler’s testimony and diagnosis of Van Breda's juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, Botha added.
Judge Desai conceded that the three life sentences he handed down had been severe, but said he had not been given any mitigating factors to deviate from minimum legislation. “I asked you to give me a peg to hang my coat. You gave me no peg.”
He is to give his verdict on Monday. - African News Agency (ANA)