Former Aussie schoolboy given three life sentences for family axe murders

A 23-year-old South African man and former Australian schoolboy has received multiple life sentences in prison for the 2015 axe murders of his parents and brother in an affluent housing estate.

Henri van Breda appeared impassive on Thursday as a judge sentenced him to three life sentences for the grisly killings in Stellenbosch, a scenic town in a wine-growing area outside of Cape Town.

Henri van Breda, pictured in court on June 5. Source: Getty
Henri van Breda, pictured in court on June 5. Source: Getty

Van Breda, who attended school at Scotch College in Perth, also received a separate 15-year sentence for the attempted murder of his sister at the time of the attacks. She suffered severe head injuries.

The van Breda family before the murders: (left to right) Henri, 20, Marli, 16, Rudi, 22, father Martin, 55, his wife Theresa, 54. Source: Facebook
The van Breda family before the murders: (left to right) Henri, 20, Marli, 16, Rudi, 22, father Martin, 55, his wife Theresa, 54. Source: Facebook
Surviving sister Marli, left, with Henri van Breda’s parents Martin and Theresa. Source: Facebook.
Surviving sister Marli, left, with Henri van Breda’s parents Martin and Theresa. Source: Facebook.

Van Breda has always maintained a masked intruder was responsible for the massacre which took place in the family home.

In handing down the sentence the judge described the murders as “cold-blooded” and carried out with a “high degree of uncontrolled violence”.

“These attacks display a high level of innate cruelty and an almost unprecedented disregard for the welfare of one’s own family,” Judge Siraj Desai said.

Henri van Breda appeared impassive on Thursday as a judge sentenced him to three life sentences. Source: AAP
Henri van Breda appeared impassive on Thursday as a judge sentenced him to three life sentences. Source: AAP

Van Breda appeared to be expecting the outcome, nodding each time the judge handed down each of the life sentences.

His lawyer has said van Breda will appeal against the verdict and the sentences.

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