Rudi van Breda likely lay alive for some time fighting for his life after receiving massive blows to the head.
Blood pooled in his stomach and ultimately his left lung collapsed as he aspirated his own blood.
He had tried to fend off an attack and his wrist and baby finger got sliced in the process‚ the nail being loosened from the skin.
His father‚ Martin van Breda‚ had likely been “taken by surprise” in the fatal axe attack‚ and had had his back to his attacker.
He showed no signs of defensive wounds but did receive a blow to his back.
He‚ too‚ lay conscious for some time before dying‚ but Teresa van Breda had either died instantly or lain too unconscious to swallow blood.
These and other disturbing details emerged on Thursday in the High Court in Cape Town‚ where Henri van Breda stands accused of murdering his brother‚ father‚ mother and attempting to murder his sister‚ Marli.
As Dr Daphne Anthony‚ a forensic pathologist‚ read out the details of the autopsies carried out on the three deceased Van Breda family members‚ Henri sat further back in court with his head in his hands‚ silently crying.
In the morning‚ his defence counsel Piet Botha had requested that he be excused from sitting in the dock as it would place him too close to the horrifying photographs of his parents’ and brother’s wounds.
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 cases‚ the force of the blows was so hard that fragments of bone and brain tissue protruded from the head wounds “and could be seen by the naked eye”‚ said Anthony‚ adding that all three had “bled out” after the attack‚ meaning all their organs had been completely drained.
Anthony was presented with the axe from the crime scene in court and asked if it matched the injuries she had seen.
She held it in her hand and said: “Taking the weight into consideration and the sharp edge‚ I would say yes.”
She added: “You would need to be strong to handle this thing.”
The case continues.