Van Breda axe not the ‘throwing type’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - THEOLIN TEMBO

THE AXE used in the Van Breda mur­der came into sharp fo­cus dur­ing tes­ti­mony from a bal­lis­tics ex­pert.

Cap­tain Candice Brown, an ex­pert from the bal­lis­tics unit at the Foren­sic Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory in Plat­tek­loof, gave ev­i­dence in the trial of Henri van Breda, ac­cused of the mur­der of his par­ents and brother and at­tempted mur­der of his sis­ter with an axe in Jan­uary 2015.

Brown told how she was called to De Zalze on Jan­uary 28, 2015, when she col­lected sam­ples and ev­i­dence from the mur­der scene. Brown was specif­i­cally ques­tioned by State lawyer Su­san Galloway on one of the marks in the en­trance door­way, and how the axe fit­ted into the scene.

Brown said in her first re­port of the scene that she noted “one im­pact mark with dam­age con­sis­tent with that caused by a con­trolled, sharpedged tool move­ment, into the right-hand side edge, ad­ja­cent to the front en­trance door­way”.

A rea­son this was high­lighted was be­cause Galloway had used the op­por­tu­nity to ques­tion the wit­ness about Henri’s plea ex­pla­na­tion, in which he said he threw the axe at the at­tacker as he was try­ing to es­cape from the house.

Galloway asked if it was pos­si­ble for the axe to have made the im­pact on the en­try­way wall as Henri said hap­pened. Brown re­sponded that the axe used in the murders is not a throwing axe, and there was a one in four chance that it could have im­pacted the wall on the sharp edge.

“The pos­si­bil­ity is there,” Brown said.

When Galloway asked how likely this was, Brown added: “Pos­si­ble, but highly un­likely.”

In her tes­ti­mony, Brown noted that the axe also had marks on it, men­tion­ing a nick on the top of the blade which curved to one side. She also found scrap­ings on the axe head, and chips marks on the butt of the axe.

Ear­lier in her tes­ti­mony, she ex­plained what “con­trolled” and “un­con­trolled” im­pact marks were – terms used in her re­port. She said con­trolled had “cer­tainty of di­rec­tion”, while “un­con­trolled” re­ferred to free marks with no cer­tainty of di­rec­tion and no re­straints.

De­fence ad­vo­cate Pi­eter Botha said he would cross-ex­am­ine Brown about this, but asked that she stand down to al­low for his foren­sic ex­pert to be present.

Judge Si­raj De­sai al­lowed this, and also in­formed the court that the trial would soon be on hold un­til Au­gust as the court term would come to an end. Brown is to con­tinue giv­ing ev­i­dence un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion to­day.

ON TRIAL: Henri van Breda

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