Man accused of Killamarsh murders also charged with rape of girl

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA</span>
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

A man accused of murdering a mother and three children has also been charged with raping one of the victims, who was 11.

Damien Bendall, 31, is now alleged to have raped and murdered Lacey Bennett. He was previously charged with killing her and her brother, John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother, Terri Harris, 35, and Lacey’s friend, Connie Gent, 11.

The victims were discovered at a house in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, on 19 September. The murder charges allege Bendall killed all four on a day between Friday 17 September and Monday 20 September.

Bendall was due before Nottingham crown court on Friday for a plea hearing, but failed to appear and the case was adjourned to 4 January at the crown court in Derby.

An inquest opening at Chesterfield coroner’s court previously heard the four died as a result of a “violent attack”. A spokesperson for Derbyshire constabulary said the provisional cause of death for the four victims had been identified as “blunt force trauma”.

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.

In a statement, the CPS said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised a further charge for Damien Bendall, 31, after reviewing a file of evidence from Derbyshire police. He has now been charged with rape of a girl under 13.

“The additional charge was today confirmed to the court at a hearing held at Nottingham crown court. All are reminded that criminal proceedings against the defendant are active and that he has the right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

Family members said Connie was at a sleepover at the home of her best friend, Lacey, when they were killed.

Speaking shortly after their deaths, Jason Bennett, the father of John Paul and Lacey, said: “Life will never be the same again. Families have been left broken by the awful loss of John, Lacey, Terri and Connie.”

He described John Paul as “‘loving, fiery, funny and passionate, with the most beautiful caring heart you could find” and said Lacey was his “TikTok queen, creating dance after dance”.

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