Man, 32, who ‘raped and murdered 11-year-old girl and also killed her brother, 13, mother and 11-year-old friend at family home for sleepover’ appears at Old Bailey
A man accused of murdering a mother and three children during a sleepover at their home has today appeared in court.
Damien Bendall allegedly murdered 11-year-old Lacey Bennett, her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, at a house near Sheffield, South Yorkshire in September last year.
The 32-year-old is also accused of killing Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, who was at the family’s home for a sleepover.
Bendall, of Killamarsh, South Yorkshire, is also charged with the rape of Lacey.
Damien Bendall allegedly murdered 11-year-old Lacey Bennett, her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, at a house near Sheffield, South Yorkshire in September last year. Pictured: Lacey Bennett with her brother John Paul Bennett and their mother Terri Harris
The 32-year-old is also accused of killing Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, who was at the family’s home for a sleepover
Bendall (pictured), of Killamarsh, South Yorkshire, is also charged with the rape of Lacey
It comes after the four bodies were discovered at a house in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, on September 19 last year.
He appeared in court via video-link from HMP Wakefield wearing a grey prison tracksuit speaking only to confirm his name during the brief administrative hearing.
Mr Justice Sweeney remanded Bendall in custody ahead of his trial which is currently fixed for October 4 at Derby Crown Court.
Following the killings Jason Bennett had posted a tribute to his son and daughter, John and Lacey, online and went to the site of the tragedy to lay flowers.
Connie Gent was on a sleepover with her friend Lacey on the night of the attack
Pictured: Jason Bennett with John Paul and Lacey who were both killed
Pictured: Floral tributes left near to the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, last year
In a statement, he added: ‘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 Terri 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.’
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.’