06/06/2018 06:24 BST | Updated 06/06/2018 06:25 BST

'Put Forward Some Reason For The Attacks' – Judge Desai To Van Breda Defence

Axe murderer Henri van Breda appeared unmoved as Judge Siraj Desai appealed to his defence to give a "human factor" to the defence's appeal for leniency in light of the "grotesque nature" of his crimes.

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Axe murderer Henri van Breda appeared unmoved as Judge Siraj Desai appealed to his defence to give a "human factor" to the defence's appeal for leniency in light of the "grotesque nature" of his crimes.

But all advocate Pieter Botha could offer was that his client had no previous convictions and had been young at the time of the brutal killings.

Proceedings lasted just over an hour in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, where the State and Van Breda's legal teams offered aggravating and mitigating factors to be considered ahead of the 23-year-old's sentencing.

Van Breda emerged from the holding cells for the first time after being sent to Pollsmoor Prison last month. He was found guilty of murdering his parents and brother, attempting to kill his sister and obstructing the course of justice.

Desai made it clear he considered the crimes to have been premeditated, as Van Breda would have had to arm himself before bludgeoning Rudi, Martin and Teresa to death and trying to murder Marli.

Premeditated murder carries a prescribed sentence of life imprisonment.

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"I am appealing to you to put forward to me some reason for the attacks," Desai told Botha.

Botha said at the time of the murder, his client had just turned 20. Up until then, Van Breda had "not been in conflict with the law once in his life".

He maintains his innocence, the seasoned advocate said.

Botha had earlier submitted a report from a social worker, compiled from information given by Van Breda and his girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg. They have been dating for just over two years.

Van Breda had reported that he was very close to his parents – he had intellectual conversations with his father Martin, although he was not the emotional type.

His mother was a nurturer, and they had an emotional, more than intellectual, connection.

According to the report, Van Breda was protective of his sister and looked up to his brother, Rudi.

The middle child has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and myoclonic epilepsy. He is on chronic medication.

The social worker found no signs of a set pattern of antisocial behaviour and found that Van Breda was appropriately emotional about dealing with the deaths of his family.

Botha also confirmed to the court that Van Breda had been attacked while behind bars but escaped serious injury after another inmate came to his rescue.

His foot had been hurt when it was stomped on, but no bones were broken.

Prosecutor Susan Galloway confirmed Van Breda only had a bruise on his left foot and no other visible injuries.

Both agreed that there had been no suicide attempt, despite media reports.

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Galloway argued that there was no substantial and compelling circumstances which would warrant deviating from the prescribed minimum sentence.

She pointed out that Van Breda killed his family when they were most vulnerable – in bed.

He had armed himself with a lethal weapon to execute the attacks, she argued.

Van Breda showed no remorse, Galloway insisted, and Marli had survived because of a miracle, not because of mercy shown by her brother.

There was no prescribed sentence for attempted murder, she told Desai, and argued that a sentence similar to the one for his parents' and brother's murders be handed down for the attack on Marli as it was committed during the same incident with the same weapon and intent.

Desai said sentencing Van Breda would appear to be relatively uncomplicated, after appealing to the defence to "put forward to me some reason for the attacks" and being given nothing.

Sentencing is expected on Thursday.