Henri has epilepsy, tests have revealed
Doctor who examined him was to be a State witness
TRIPLE murder accused Henri van Breda spent the weekend at Mediclinic Constantiaberg, where he was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy after a series of medical tests.
Yesterday, defence lawyer Piet Botha told the Western Cape High Court that his client, 23, had a seizure on Wednesday last week, was hospitalised on Thursday and examined by neurologist Doctor James Butler. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is an inherited genetic syndrome. According to Wikipedia, episodes are characterised by involuntary muscle twitching that do not usually result in the person falling, “but rather dropping objects. Other seizure types such as generalised tonic-clonic (GTCs) and absence seizures can occur.” It said generalised GTCs are usually triggered by sleep deprivation. Onset of the symptoms usually occurs between ages 10 and 16, but can present in some patients in their 20s.
The defence was to call a psychologist yesterday, but proceedings were postponed to give her time to amend her report if deemed necessary, as she has not yet seen the neurologist’s report.
Judge Siraj Desai said ethical issues may arise, however, as the neurologist, Doctor James Butler, had been a potential State witness who was ultimately not called, but he had been consulted.
Judge Desai will have to decide, after listening to arguments, whether he can be called. But Botha urged the court to call him as the doctor’s testimony is “relevant to the 2 hours 40 minutes”, a time lapse, that has been highlighted in the trial.
Van Breda has pleaded not guilty to murdering his parents Martin and Teresa, and brother Rudi. His sister Marli, 16 at the time of the January 2015 attacks, survived.
Van Breda claims an intruder, armed with an axe and knife, was behind the attacks. In his plea explanation he said that in pursuit of the attacker he lost his footing and fell down the stairs. “I do not know what made me fall, but my fall was quite severe.”
After the attacker fled, he went upstairs to the injured. “I lost consciousness. I’m unsure whether this was due to shock or to the injuries when I fell down the stairs.” When he regained consciousness he didn’t think he could help them.
SEIZURE: Henri van Breda