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A MAN accused of raping an 11-year-old girl before murdering her along with his friend, brother and mother at a sleepover has appeared in court.
Damien Bendall, 31, is accused of killing Lacey and John Bennett, 13, his mother Terri Harris, 35, and the children’s friend Connie Gent, 11, at a home in Killamarsh, Derbyshire.
Arrested and Charged
He faces another charge for the rape of a girl under the age of 13.
The family had invited Lacey’s best friend, Connie, to stay the night before they were killed in a “violent attack.”
The bodies were found on the property in Chandos Crescent on September 19.
Terri’s partner, Bendall, was held at the scene before being charged.
He was scheduled to appear at a guilty plea hearing in November, but was unwell to attend.
He today appeared in Derby Crown Court charged with four counts of murder and one of rape, but was not asked to present a statement.
Wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and a white mask, the defendant was surrounded by five dock officers during the short hearing.
An investigation that was opened in the Chesterfield Coroner’s Court previously heard that all four died as a result of a “violent attack.”
Judge Nirmal Shant QC returned Bendall to custody
The coroner court also heard how a relative of Bendall had called police to say that the defendant had suffered a self-inflicted stab wound.
Judge Nirmal Shant QC returned Bendall to custody to appear in the same court for a guilty plea hearing on January 18.
He is due to stand trial on March 1 of this year.
Following the tragic deaths of the family, tributes came to Terri, Lacey, John, and Connie.
Lacey and John’s father, Jason, cried as he laid flowers for his children near the house where they were found dead.
He led a floral tribute to his “TikTok queen” Lacey, saying that he was “lost” without her.
One note read, “Take care of your older brother and don’t finish it.”
Jason also left a handwritten note at the house for John that said, “My beautiful son, make your kind heart shine as the angels take care of you for me.”
Mourners described Terri as “an amazing mother” at her funeral in October, while family and friends honored little Connie as “the happiest child in the world.”