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U.K. Man Sentenced To Life For Killing Pregnant Girlfriend, Her Kids And Another Little Girl

Damien Bendall allegedly admitted to raping and killing his pregnant girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter, Lacey Bennett, and killing the girlfriend, Terri Harris, her son John-Paul Bennett, and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent.

By Caitlin Schunn
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A British man will spend the rest of his life in prison after police said he raped a child and then murdered her, two other children and his pregnant girlfriend.

On Wednesday, Damien Bendall, 32, pleaded guilty and received five life sentences for murdering Terri Harris, 35,  her son, John-Paul Bennett, 13, her daughter, Lacey Bennett, 11, and Lacey’s friend, 11-year-old Connie Gent on Sept. 18, 2021, Derbyshire Police said in a statement. He also pleaded guilty to raping Lacey.

Bendall had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case. 

“You carried out a brutal and vicious attack on a defenseless woman and three children during which you went around the house attacking them, hitting them multiple times about the head and upper body with a claw hammer,” said Lord Justice Nigel Sweeney as he sentenced Bendell.

Harris was pregnant at the time of her death, according to the BBC. Connie was visiting the home — which Harris and Bendell shared with her children — for a sleepover with Lacey.

A police handout of Damien Bendall

Derbyshire police released footage on social media Wednesday of Bendall on Sept. 19, 2021, as he was arrested at the home on Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh. The video starts with audio from a call to police, during which Bendall said he needed “police and the ambulance here now because I’ve killed four people.”

The video then shows police body cam footage of Bendall telling officers he didn’t know what happened. He said he had harmed himself, putting a bread knife four inches into his chest. When the police start to talk to him, he said, “I know what’s going to happen, I’m going to go to prison, obviously. Again.”

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He also said to officers in the footage, “I’ve murdered four people.”

The BBC reported that he also told police: “Bet you don’t usually get four murders in Killamarsh do you? Well, I mean five, ‘cause my missus was having a baby.”

Forensic evidence shows Bendall attacked and raped Lacey downstairs in the home, before moving her upstairs and raping her again, the BBC reported. He also used a ligature around her neck, which contributed to her death. She and the other victims all sustained head injuries from the claw hammer.

A police handout of Terri Harris, John and Lacey Bennett

Police said Bendell was under the influence of cocaine and cannabis during the attack, calling him “violent and unstable.”

“The level of force and violence which was used in these attacks show they were carried out with one intention, and that was to take the lives of Terri, John-Paul, Lacey and Connie,” said Detective Inspector Mark Shaw in a press release. “The force and weapon he used would have meant they were very quickly left incapacitated.”

“It is also impossible to comprehend the nature of the further attack on Lacey for all those involved,” Shaw added.

Bendall said in a formal police interview that he didn’t realize what he did until he saw the bodies of his girlfriend and her daughter in the bedroom, the BBC reported.

But Bendall left the house after the murders and before reporting them, taking John-Paul’s gaming console to sell for drugs, the BBC reported.

Bendall had gotten into a relationship with Harris starting in April 2020, and was living with her and her children at the time of the murders.

During the sentencing, the judge called Bendall “abusive and controlling” in his relationship with Harris.

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Personal statements from relatives of the victims were read to the court by the prosecution during the sentencing, the BBC said.

“I am living in a continual nightmare,” the father of Lacey and John-Paul, Jason Bennett, said in a statement, according to the BBC. “I have a story in my head of how they died, I live their trauma and feel their pain; it feels like a recurring punishment.”

Bennett said his children had sold candy for charity on the day they died, according to the BBC, describing his daughter as “kind and caring.”

A police handout of victim Connie Gent

Charles Gent, Connie’s father, said the murder had “completely torn my life apart,” the BBC reported.

“The man who carried out the crimes can only be described as truly evil and should never be free from incarceration,” Gent wrote, according to the BBC. “Just like the families in this case will never be free from their life sentence as a result of the shocking and abhorrent crimes he committed on a defenseless woman and children.”