A ‘house of horrors’ where a ‘truly evil’ monster murdered his pregnant partner and three children with a claw hammer is set to be demolished after the killer was jailed for life.
Council chiefs say they intend to knock down the 1950s pebble-dash semi where drug-using ‘career criminal’ Damien Bendall raped and murdered Lacey Bennett, 11, before killing her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and their friend Connie Gent, 11.
North East Derbyshire District Council, which owns the property valued at roughly £100,000, came to the decision after tenants in the adjoining home in Killamarsh asked to leave.
And a spokesman added that the building would be replaced with a ‘fitting commemoration’ to those who lost their lives there on September 19 last year.
Council chiefs say they intend to demolish the 1950s pebble-dash semi
Damien Bendall murdered 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
They said: ‘The past 15 months have been a very challenging time as so many have struggled to come to terms with what happened.
‘The house is one of a pair of semi-detached properties. Following their request to be rehoused, we have been working hard to find the neighbouring family alternative accommodation and they have moved into their new home recently.
‘Since these terrible events first unfolded, it has been our intention to demolish the house but we were unable to act on this due to the ongoing legal proceedings and the understandable sensitivities involved.
‘Now that the case has been concluded and both properties are no longer occupied, we will be proceeding to demolish the properties in the New Year while also consulting further on what to do with the site and finding a fitting commemoration to remember the victims of this awful tragedy.’
Bendall was given a whole life sentence when he appeared in court on December 21 after admitting to murder.
Prosecutor Louis Malby KC told Derby Crown Court his victims had been subjected to a ‘hideous, brutal and cruel attack.’
She said: ‘On the night of September 18 stretching into the early hours of Sunday the defendant brutally murdered Terri Harris, who was in the early stage of pregnancy.
‘He also murdered Terri’s two children by a previous partner. He also murdered Connie Gent, a friend of Lacey’s who just happened to be staying at the house for a sleepover.
Lacey Bennett, left, her mother Terri Harris, centre, and her brother, John Paul, were all killed
A judge told Bendall: ‘In April 2020 you began a relationship with Terri Harris (centre) which became abusive and controlling’
Bendall meeting police outside the house of the murders
‘It does appear that each victim was attacked in a different room. It appears that the defendant went around the house looking for them.
‘The circumstances of the offences are truly hideous. These were brutal and cruel attacks on a woman and three children.
‘The defendant attacked them using a claw hammer. He hit them with such ferocity that in essence their skulls were smashed in. It was perfectly clear none of the victims stood a chance.
‘One of the dreadful facts about the case is that during the attacks the defendant raped 11-year-old Lacey.’
The court heard Bendall and Terri had met on a dating website about 18 months previously but had an ‘unharmonious and deteriorating’ relationship.
Bendall was a well-known criminal, a heavy drug user and also ‘showed interest in other women’ but Terri told her mother that she still intended to marry him.
Connie was at the house where Lacey and John lived with their mother and Bendall for a sleepover on September 17 and asked if she could stay for a second night. On the day of the depraved attacks, the children had put up a stall outside the house selling sweets to raise money for Cancer Research.
That evening, Connie’s mother sent a WhatsApp message to her daughter saying ‘goodnight’ as the youngster’s were going to bed.
It is believed they were all attacked at some point between 9.42pm and 10pm that night.
Bendall called 999 the following day using Connie’s mobile phone to confess saying: ‘Basically I need the police and ambulance now because I just killed four people.’
Bendall greeted police at the door and allowed them inside where officers discovered the four bodies.
In court last week, Judge Nigel Sweeney showed little belief in Bendall’s pathetic attempt to explain away the killings by claiming he had a brain injury, something his own lawyer said no tests had proved. His drug use was also not accepted as a mitigating factor.
Bendall, who can be seen in a Chelsea T-shirt, whined about how he would be sent back to jail
The judge told him: ‘You have a significant background of violent offending.
‘In April 2020 you began a relationship with Terri Harris which became abusive and controlling, distancing Terri from her family.
‘On September 18, you carried out a brutal and vicious assault on a defenceless woman and three children. You attacked Lacey downstairs and carried her upstairs where you raped her on the bed where her mother had been killed as her life ebbed away.’
Bendall had shown no regard for any of his victims. After killing John, he stole his X-Box and took a taxi to nearby Sheffield to sell it for drugs.
On the way he had told the cabbie he had spent the night ‘chilling with his family’ as they all lay dead at his home.