‘House of horrors’ where man killed pregnant girlfriend and three children to be demolished

Neighbours in adjoining property asked to be rehomed after drug addict Damien Bendall killed four people with claw hammer during a sleepover

Jane Dalton
Friday 30 December 2022 15:16 GMT
Earlier video: Bendall was charged and neighbours held a vigil
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A “house of horrors” where a man killed his pregnant partner and three children with a claw hammer is set to be razed to the ground.

Council chiefs say they plan to demolish the 1950s pebbledash semi-detached home where Damien Bendall, 32, murdered Lacey Bennett, 11, John Paul Bennett, 13, Terri Harris, 35, and Connie Gent, 11.

North East Derbyshire District Council, which owns the property in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, came to the decision after tenants in the adjoining home asked to leave.

Damien Bendall was given a whole life order at Derby Crown Court (Derbyshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

A spokesperson from the council said the house, worth around £100,000, would be replaced with a “fitting commemoration” to those who lost their lives there on September 19 last year.

They told the Derby Telegraph: “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.

Lacey Bennett with her brother John Paul and their mother Terri Harris (Family/PA) (PA Media)

“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 in court last week after admitting murder.

Prosecutor Louis Malby KC told Derby Crown Court his victims had been subjected to a “hideous, brutal and cruel attack”.

He said: “On the night of September 18 stretching into the early hours of Sunday, the defendant brutally murdered Ms Harris, who was in the early stage of pregnancy.

Bendall shows police a wound after he stabbed himself (Derbyshire Police)
Chief Constable Rachel Swann of Derbyshire Police talks to the media at the murder scene (Lee McLean / SWNS)

“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.

“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.

Flowers near the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh (PA Archive)
The father to some of the victims leaves flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

“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 Ms Harris had met on a dating website about 18 months earlier 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 Ms Harris told her mother 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.

Connie Gent, Lacey Bennett, John-Paul Bennett, Terri Harris ( Derbyshire Police)
Neighbours held a vigil (Lee McLean / SWNS)

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 youngsters were going to bed.

It is believed they were all attacked at some point between 9.42pm and 10pm.

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 horrified officers discovered the four bodies.

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