Thu, 18 Jul 2019

State opposes Henri van Breda's Concourt appeal bid

20 Jun 2019, 07:10 GMT+10

The State is opposing triple axe murderer Henri van Breda's bid to challenge his conviction and sentence in the Constitutional Court, stating that it is not in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal.

In an affidavit opposing his application, prosecutor Megan Blows said there were no prospects of success on appeal. "All submissions made by [the] applicant in his founding affidavit were thoroughly considered by the trial court as is evident from the court's comprehensive judgment," added Blows.

"The trial court correctly convicted [the] applicant of the planned murders of his family... No substantial and compelling circumstances compelling the trial court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentences were placed before the court."

Court 'erred' in convicting, sentencing Henri Van Breda - defence ConCourt papers

In May 2018, Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai gave Van Breda three life sentences for the murders of his parents and brother, 15 years for the attempted murder of his sister, and one year for obstructing the course of justice.

In the defence's application for leave to appeal, Van Breda's attorney, Lorinda van Niekerk, argued that Desai had made a number of incorrect factual findings on material aspects, had relied on hearsay evidence without alerting them prior to judgment, and attached little or no weight to the defence's expert witnesses without justification.

While she said the appeal raised a constitutional issue, Blows said this aspect had already been decided upon by the Constitutional Court.

It was Van Breda's fourth application for leave to appeal, having previously been denied by the Supreme Court of Appeal on two occasions, and the Western Cape High Court.

"It is submitted that the court a quo erred and misdirected itself by concluding that the proven facts are only consistent with a finding that the applicant was the person who attacked his family; and that the proven facts exclude as a reasonable inference, that the applicant's exculpatory version is reasonably possibly true," said Van Niekerk.

'Shockingly excessive and inappropriate'

The defence also submitted that imposing life sentences was "shockingly excessive and inappropriate".

But Blows differed in her affidavit.

"The horrendous facts of the matter speaks for themselves... It therefore cannot be argued that the sentences imposed are either shockingly excessive or inappropriate," she said.

The State argued the high court correctly found that the evidence pointed to Van Breda attacking his family and that his version was not reasonably, possibly true.

Blows said the court did not make any incorrect factual findings on material aspects and thoroughly considered the evidence of the expert witnesses called by the defence.

"The trial court, upon a consideration of these pillars [of Van Breda's case], found that the conviction of the applicant was inescapable and the only reasonable inference to be made. The court clearly did not convict the applicant on the basis of the DNA evidence."

Desai delivered a "comprehensive and detailed judgment", Blows said.

"Unlike [the] applicant, the trial court did not deal with the evidence on a piecemeal basis, but evaluated all the circumstantial evidence, in totality."

She said an appeal court could only interfere where there had been a clear misdirection or where findings were obviously incorrect.

"In the matter at hand, there is no clear misdirection of findings that are patently incorrect."

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