Triple murder accused Henri van Breda

Senior state prosecutor Advocate Susan Galloway told the court the State would wrap up its case by August 28.

Earlier on Tuesday, police ballistics expert Captain Candice Brown testified that a stretcher carrying Martin van Breda’s 120 kilogram body could have caused damage to the 17th step on the landing of the van Breda home.

Brown was being cross-examined in the Western Cape High Court on day 26 of the trial against 22-year-old Henri van Breda who has been charged with the axe murders of his parents, Martin and Teresa, his brother, Rudi, and the attempted murder of his sister, Marli.

Brown, who is attached to the police’s forensic unit, on Monday took the court through her analysis of three markings, one on the top landing where the bodies were found‚ one on the 12th step of the staircase‚ and one near the front door of the house.

She said that an axe being thrown down the stairs was possible, but “highly unlikely”.

In van Breda’s plea explanation, he claims a laughing axe-wielding intruder wearing a balaclava attacked his family, but that he managed to disarm him and chased him as he fled the house.

“I saw the attacker near the middle landing of the flight of stairs. I am not a fast runner and did not think I would be able to catch him. I then threw the axe at him. I cannot recall exactly where I was on the stairs when I threw the axe. I also did not see where or what the axe struck.”

Brown testified that when she arrived at the house in the luxury security estate, De Zalze, in Stellenbosch, at around 9.30am the day after the murders on January 28, 2015, the bodies had been removed.

Police officers had already collected and bagged some of the evidence.

Defence lawyer Matthys Combrink said a fragment on the twelfth step was seen in the first two photographs taken of that area, but in the third and fourth photographs taken, it was no longer there. He contended that it could have been kicked there by emergency personnel after the incident.

He also referred to notes and comments she had made about markings on the 17th step that could have been caused by an axe, or a medic.

“Even at the time, you thought this damage could have been caused by respondents to the scene.”

Brown said she had opted to process everything as the respondents had not been sure if the tile had been broken by the stretcher.

Combrink said: “Did you not think it important to mention the gurney (stretcher) and not the axe could have caused damage to the step?”

“Martin van Breda weighed 120kgs. We know already that four people had to carry him out. They put him down on the steps, the landing area where they had to move, would have created that damage.”

Brown responded that “anything sharp edged could have created that”, but conceded that if she had been told on the scene that it had been caused by the stretcher, she would have revised her findings.

-African News Agency