A man accusing of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s daughter then killing her brother, mother and friend is indisputably responsible for causing their deaths, a court heard today.
Damien Bendall, 31, is alleged to have raped and murdered 11-year-old Lacey Bennett, killed her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and Lacey’s 11-year-old friend, Connie Gent.
The charges come after four bodies were discovered at a house in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, South Yorkshire, on September 19 last year.
Derby Crown Court today heard it would not be disputed that Bendall caused the deaths but there were delays to the case which resulted in no pleas being entered.
Wearing a grey sweatshirt, blue jeans and a surgical face mask, the defendant was surrounded by five dock officers throughout the short hearing.
Judge Nirmal Shant said it is ‘not an issue that the defendant caused the deaths’ before adjourning the case for a trial to take place on March 21.
The murder charges allege he unlawfully killed all four victims on a day between Friday September 17 and Monday September 20 last year.
Derbyshire Police previously said officers were called to the house at 7.36am on September 20 after reports of concerns for a man’s welfare.
An inquest opening at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court previously heard the four died as a result of a ‘violent attack’.
The coroner’s court also heard how a relative of Bendall had phoned police to say the defendant had suffered a self-inflicted stab wound.
The defendant is due to stand trial on March 21 this year.
Judge Nirmal Shant QC remanded Bendall back into custody to appear at the same court for a plea hearing on February 25.
In the wake of their deaths, Jason Bennett – the father of Lacey and John Paul – said he had been left ‘devastated’ by the loss.
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.’
Source: Thanks msn.com