‘Sleepover’ murderer given whole life order for killing pregnant partner and three children

A quadruple murderer has been been given a whole life order for killing his pregnant partner and three children with a claw hammer during a sleepover.

Damien Bendall, 32, killed Lacey, 11, her brother John, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, at their home in Killamarsh, Derbyshire.

Bendall has also been sentenced for the rape of Lacey during the horrific attack on 19 September 2021. Bendall raped the defenceless 11-year-old as she lay dying from the head wounds he had inflicted with the hammer, Derby Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

In an emotional victim impact statement, Lacey and John’s father Jason Bennett said: “It’s like my life has been shattered into a billion pieces, never to be repaired. I no longer have a future. Life is empty.

“All I have is sadness. The love I crave is from my beautiful kids.”

Angela Smith, Ms Harris’ mother, said in a statement: “Bendall has taken everything of me … I wish he had taken my life and not theirs.”

Connie’s father, Charles Gent, said: “The murder of my daughter has completely torn my life apart … The man who carried out the crimes can only be described as ‘truly evil’.”

The court heard that Bendall had gone room to room looking for his victims.

Prosecutor Louis Mably KC said: “It does appear each [victim] was attacked in a different room, [and] appears he went around the house looking for them, attacking them each in turn, in order to kill them.”

Drug addict Bendall then left the bodies in the house to go into Sheffield to exchange 13-year-old John’s Xbox for some drugs, the court heard.

In an exchange with a taxi driver on the night, a recording of which was played to the court, Bendall said he had been “just chilling with the family” earlier in the evening.

He returned back to Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh after 6am on Sunday and called his mother, before heading out again to buy tobacco.

His mother called the police and told them her son had suffered a self-inflicted wound. When the police turned up at the house they were met by the 32-year-old, who told them he had “killed four people”.

In a police interview after his arrest, Bendall told officers: “The whole house is covered in claret. I used the hammer. I didn’t realise what I did until I walked into my room and saw my missus and my daughter.”

He added: “Bet you don’t usually get four murders in Killamarsh do you – well, five [murders] because my missus was having a baby.”

Tributes were paid to the late Terri Harris and the three children after their murder last year

Only hours before the killings, the children had been selling sweets outside their house to raise money for Cancer Research, the prosecution told the court.

Bendall’s defence lawyers told the court that he wanted to be sentenced to a whole life order and he expressed “genuine remorse” for his actions.

They said: “The defendant hopes the knowledge he will be serving a full life sentence behind bars for the rest of his life and that every day he is having to confront and live with the demons of his actions he hopes this will provide some justice to these families.”

More to follow..

Lacey Bennett with her brother John Paul Bennett and their mother Terri Harris who along with Lacey’s friend Connie Gent were killed at an address in Killamarsh

Damien Bendall admitted the murder to police at the scene

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