Henri Van Breda swings axe in trial for parents' murder

A son on trial for butchering his family in their beds swung an axe in court in a chilling re-enactment of the bloodbath he claims to have innocently witnessed.

Henri Van Breda showed no emotion as he raised the replica murder weapon above his head and brought it down on the imaginary heads and bodies of his loved ones to demonstrate how they were left dead and dying during the frenzied attack.

Henri Van Breda, on trial in Cape Town for butchering his family in their beds, swung an axe in court in a chilling re-enactment of the bloodbath he claims to have innocently witnessed

Henri Van Breda, on trial in Cape Town for butchering his family in their beds, swung an axe in court in a chilling re-enactment of the bloodbath he claims to have innocently witnessed

Giving evidence on Wednesday, his 23rd birthday, in an attempt to convince a jury of his innocence, Van Breda denied making up a new version of events in the witness box to cover holes in the story he had earlier given to police.

Jobless Van Breda denies murdering his wealthy parents, Martin and Teresa, and brother Rudi, and attempting to murder Marli, his sister, in an early-hours massacre at their luxury home in South Africa's winelands in January 2015. 

He stands to inherit a share of his parents' £12 million (AU$20.76 million) fortune if he is cleared of the charges.

He faced a tough cross-examination of his dramatic account by prosecutor Susan Galloway who accused him of changing his timeline and other details to explain away the evidence against him.

Van Breda denied a neighbour's memory of hearing 'aggressive, loud arguing' between males coming from the Van Bredas' double-storey home, claiming instead that it was him, his brother, and father watching Star Trek 2 at full volume.

He rebutted a witness's description of his millionaire father, Martin, as controlling, who had fought with Marli, then 16.

The 22-year-old (far left) stands accused of repeatedly reigning an axe down on the heads of parents Martin (far right) and Teresa (right), brother Rudi (centre) and sister Marli (front left) at the family’s home in South Africa in 2015

The 22-year-old (far left) stands accused of repeatedly reigning an axe down on the heads of parents Martin (far right) and Teresa (right), brother Rudi (centre) and sister Marli (front left) at the family's home in South Africa in 2015

Van Breda showed no emotion as he raised the replica murder weapon (pictured) above his head and brought it down on the imaginary heads and bodies of his loved ones

Van Breda showed no emotion as he raised the replica murder weapon (pictured) above his head and brought it down on the imaginary heads and bodies of his loved ones

Instead, he repeated his description of the attractive, wealthy family as 'happy', and that their disagreements were 'nothing out of the ordinary', but conceded his father, who built a massive fortune from property investments, was 'strong, always the boss and dominant'.

Throughout his time in the witness box, Van Breda, wearing a suit and tie, admitted he could not account for why he failed to summon help, or done more to protect his mother and sister as the ruthless intruder butchered the family, one by one.

'If I had been thinking clearly, I would probably have done that, if I hadn't been so scared or tired,' he conceded in a measured tone.

According to his police statement, Van Breda was rooted to a spot in the bathroom as a masked 'laughing' killer's unprovoked attack began with his brother, as he lay sleeping in bed, before the axe was

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