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Henri weeps as pathologist recounts brutal details of autopsy

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Triple murder-accused Henri van Breda cried silently as a pathologist told the Cape Town High Court yesterday that his brother, Rudi, and father, Martin, were alive for some time, bleeding to death, after a brutal axe attack.

His mother, Teresa, faced the attacker head on and raised her palm to protect herself, Daphne Anthony, a forensic pathologist, told the court.

Van Breda is accused of murdering his brother, father and mother, and attempting to murder his sister, Marli.

As Anthony read out the findings of her autopsies of the three murdered Van Bredas, Henri sat further back in court with his head in his hands, crying silently.

In the morning his lawyer, Piet Botha, had asked that his client be excused from sitting in the dock because there he was, said Botha, too close to the horrifying photographs of his parents’ and brother’s wounds.

Rudi van Breda, who was probably attacked in bed, is likely to have lived for some time after receiving massive blows to the head. Blood pooled in his stomach, and eventually his left lung collapsed as he breathed his own blood.

He had tried to fend off an attack, judging by the wounds to his wrist and little finger.

His father, Martin, had probably had his back to his attacker and been “taken by surprise” in the fatal axe attack. He had no defensive wounds but received a blow to his back. He, too, was conscious for some time before dying.

Teresa van Breda might have died instantly. She had not swallowed blood.

Henri van Breda’s sister, Marli, who survived but cannot remember what happened, fought to fend off the attacker.

Anthony walked the court through every detail of the injuries sustained by the three family members. All had died from “severe head injuries”, which had been applied with “considerable force and speed”.

In all instances the force of the blows was considerable – fragments of bone and brain tissue protruded from the head wounds “and could be seen with the naked eye”, said Anthony. She said all three had bled to death after the attack.

Anthony was shown the axe taken from the crime scene and asked if it matched the injuries she had seen.

Holding it, she said: “Taking the weight into consideration and the sharp edge, I would say ‘yes’. You would need to be strong to handle this.”

[Source: Times Live]
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