Boyfriend admits raping partner's daughter before murdering family

Depraved boyfriend admits murdering his pregnant partner, 35, raping and killing her 11-year-old daughter, and then taking the life of her son, 13, and their friend who was staying for a sleepover

  • Damien Bendall said he murdered Lacey Bennett, 11, and her brother John, 13
  • He also said he killed his partner, Terri Harris, 35, and friend Connie Gent, 11 
  • Bendall carried out the murders after raping Lacey in the Derby family home 
  • He was notorious in the local area and set a BMW on fire a year earlier

A depraved boyfriend has admitted raping his pregnant partner’s young daughter as he murdered the entire family and a friend who was staying for a sleepover.

Damien Bendall killed Lacey Bennett, 11, her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and 11-year-old Connie Gent in Killamarsh, Derbyshire last year. 

He had previously tried to plead guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility, but it was refused by the prosecution.

But at Derby Crown Court this morning he finally admitted murder and raping schoolgirl Lacey during the attack in September last year.

Prosecutor Louis Mably KC said Bendall murdered each victim in a different room in the house with a claw hammer.

He said Lacey was raped as she lay dying, adding: ‘The circumstances are truly hideous. Terri was in the early stages of pregnancy.

‘It appears the defendant went around the house looking for them and attacking them each in turn.’

Damien Bendall has admitted murdering Lacey Bennett, 11, her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and 11-year-old Connie Gent in Killamarsh, Derbyshire last year 

Lacey Bennett, left, her mother Terri Harris, centre, and her brother, John Paul, were all killed

Their four bodies were discovered at a house in Killamarsh, in Derbyshire on September 19.

The alarm had been raised after a relative of Bendall had called Dorset Police to say he had sustained a self-inflicted stab wound.

Officers met the killer at the door of the house and after talking to him he let them in.

Inside they found the rampage he had gone on and the four bodies in the property.

Connie Gent, 11, (left) was at a sleepover at the home in Killamarsh when she was murdered with Lacey (right), John and their mother Terri Harris

The community was left devastated by the murders and left floral tributes at the Derby scene 

Bendall was notorious in the area as a local criminal.

Now the pleas have been entered it can be disclosed he had brushes with the law, including arson when he set a BMW worth £1,350 on fire in May 2020. 

He was serving a suspended sentence for this when he carried out the murders. 

At the time of their murders John and Lacey’s father, Jason Bennett, made a heartfelt tribute to his son and daughter.

In statement he said ‘I’ve been left broken. I’m devastated. John and Lacey came into our lives and brought so much love and happiness and were adored by myself and their big sisters, forever loved and remembered.

‘We would also like to thank everyone for their loving support and our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the tragic loss of four precious lives.’

Ms Harris’s parents, Angela Smith and Lawrence Harris, described her as ‘an amazing mum’ who ‘put herself out not just for her family and friends but anyone who needed her help’.

They added: ‘She absolutely loved her work as a care worker and would go above and beyond for the people she cared for.

‘She will be missed more than any words can ever express, not only by her family but by anyone who had the privilege to have been in her life.’

And Connie’s father, Charles Gent said: ‘The pain is indescribable. I wake up every morning hoping this has all been a terrible nightmare, but it’s not. It’s the unbearable reality that my little girl has gone.

‘Connie was an absolute superstar in every way. She had a gift – if someone was down she could instantly make them feel okay.

‘She lit up every room she went in and meant something to everyone she came across, even in hard times. Connie had the ability to keep everyone smiling.

‘Fly safe my angel. They came for you and left me behind. I could never say goodbye, so I’ll see you soon. I love you more than you can possibly imagine forever and always.’

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