FILE - In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 file photo, Henri van Breda sits in the hall of the High Court in Cape Town, South Africa, during sentencing for the 2015 murders of his parents and brother and received a separate sentence of 15 years for the attempted murder of his sister. Van Breda was denied the opportunity to appeal his conviction and life sentence on Monday Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog, File)

South African man denied appeal on ax murder convictions

August 20, 2018 - 6:56 am

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African man found guilty of murdering three of his immediate family members was denied the opportunity to appeal his conviction and life sentences on Monday.

The Western Cape High Court dismissed the application of Henri van Breda, 23, to appeal his three life sentences for murdering his mother, father and brother in 2015 at his family's upscale home in Stellenbosch, a wine-growing region outside Cape Town, according to reports in South Africa's media.

Van Breda was found guilty of the murders in May. He was also found guilty of attempting to murder his sister, who survived the attack, and was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison and one year for attempting to obstruct justice.

The grisly attack, which gripped this country that has a high rate of violent crime, also has attracted international attention. The van Breda family had once moved to Australia but returned several years ago.

Van Breda, who was 20 years old at the time of the attack, pleaded not guilty to all charges after handing himself over to police in September 2016. He alleged during his trial that his family was attacked by an intruder wearing gloves, dark clothes and a balaclava in the early hours of the morning.

Van Breda called emergency responders more than two hours after the attack, saying he had lost consciousness. In a phone call to emergency services played in court, he told the operator: "My family and me were attacked by a guy with an ax."

His lawyers argued during the appeal application hearing last week that there was not sufficient evidence connecting their young client to the murders.

But Judge Siraj Desai, who sentenced van Breda in May, said on Monday that the defense had not presented sufficient reasons for an appeal to proceed, according to news outlet News24. He said the facts still supported that van Breda had carried out the crimes.

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