Van Breda axe not the ‘throwing type’
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