Episode 52 - The Killamarsh Murders

“I remember when they were younger, they would always say they were scared of monsters, and I would say there’s ‘no such thing’. How wrong I was.” 

These are the haunting words of Angela Smith, the grandmother of Lacey and John Paul Bennet and mother of Terri Harris, three of the victims in today’s harrowing case.  

On the 19th of September 2021, police would receive not one, but two calls which would bring to light a series of events that would shock the UK. This is the story of the Killamarsh Murders.  

At exactly 7.26 that morning, the police received a call from a mother expressing concern for her adult son’s safety. She told the operator that her son had told her he was suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds, and she requested that the police perform a wellness check. Minutes later, at exactly 7.38 am, the police received another call. The man on the line stated, in what was reported as an unusually nonchalant manner, “I just need to report a crime, basically I need the police and an ambulance now because I’ve just killed four people.” When the man identified himself and his address, the operator was able to link the two separate calls, both of which told very different stories. The man identified himself as Damien Bendall.  

Needless to say, the officers were extremely concerned by both calls and within minutes they responded to the address Damien and his mother had provided. When two officers arrived at the home, Damien met them outside and in the same unworried tone of voice he had used on the phone, he asked the officers for a cigarette. He then explained that he’d stabbed himself in the chest and stomach with a bread knife and he stated that he refused to go to prison, again

Damien’s hands were covered in blood and when he lifted his shirt the officers could see injuries on his chest and stomach, although they were more like cuts rather than stab wounds with very little blood. So where did the blood on his hands come from?  

Without skipping a beat, Damien repeated the words “I know I’m going to prison, again,”. Then, using the same indifferent tone of voice that he had used throughout the interaction, Damien stated that he had killed four people.  

By this point, the officers were extremely concerned for the well-being of those inside the residence. Damien had started to ramble on about blacking out and having an “Out of body experience” and officers had to interrupt him to ask whether the people inside the house were ok. To their question, Damien replied – “No, there’s one in the bathroom, two upstairs and one in the bedroom.” 

Somebody Knows More | Listen Notes

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With Damien’s assertion that he had killed four people – first on the phone, then twice on the doorstep of the home, officers decided to take him into custody under suspicion of murder. He was taken to the back of the patrol car by one officer while the other entered the home.  

Both officers were hoping against hope that Damien was a delusional drug addict who was high and telling stories. It just wouldn’t make sense for someone who has killed four people to casually ask for a cigarette and talk about what he had done in such a relaxed manner, would it?  

To the officer’s horror, he found exactly what Damien had told them he would. The bloody, bludgeoned corpses of three children and an adult woman who was presumably their mother. 

The victims were later identified as 35-year-old Terri Harris who was Bendall’s girlfriend, her daughter, 11-year-old Lacey Bennett, her son, 13-year-old John Paul and Lacey’s best friend Connie Gent, who was also 11 years old.  

Dashcam footage recorded outside the home shows the gut-wrenching reaction of the officer who made the initial discovery of the victims. In absolute disbelief, the officer can be heard saying “Massive head wounds. They are gone. They are gone. They are gone. They are all gone. F**k me.”  


35-year-old Terri Harris lived in a semi-attached home in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, Derbyshire, England. She was a loving mother to her two kids, Lacey and John-Paul Bennett and she was described as a “fantastic” and “amazing” mother by many, including her own mother, whom she was exceptionally close with. Terri was divorced, but despite their differences, she and her ex-husband, Jason Bennett, worked together in their efforts to raise their children.  

Terri worked as a healthcare assistant in a nursing home, which was befitting of her kind and caring nature. Despite the busy schedule of taking care of her two kids as well as working, Terri was also a compassionate and gentle soul who took part in fundraising events for local charities. She participated in a walk to raise money for bone cancer, she promoted donating to the Teenage Cancer Trust, and she even used her birthday as an excuse to host a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK. 

Terri was very close to her mother Angela. They described each other as being more like best friends than mother and daughter. They spoke often and talked about anything and everything. Angela had been a rock for Terri through her divorce and when Terri was ready to get back into dating, she talked about any potential love interest with her mum.  

Terri met Damien Bendall through a dating website in early 2020. By April of that year, they became official. Damien was honest with Terri about his history, which included a 3-year stay in prison for robbery. He had also been charged with attempted robbery, possession of a knife causing grievous bodily harm and arson.  Despite his violent past, Terri’s kind and compassionate heart saw past Damien’s flaws. She chose to see the good in him and she truly believed that he posed no threat to her or her kids.  

On the other hand, Angela had a completely different perspective of Damien. Terri had told her mum about his criminal history and how she believed he had changed for the better. But Angela couldn’t shake the bad feelings she had whenever she was around Damien, and she warned Terri to stay away from him. Angela had good reason to be concerned.  

After they became official, Damien moved in with Terri and her two children. He had previously been living in Swilden which is in Wiltshire, more than 126 miles (203 km) away from where Terri lived. Terri saw Damien’s willingness to move so far to be with her as a romantic gesture. She took it as a sign that he was a changed man who was ready to commit to a more settled, family-centric life far from his violent past.   

But the mask Damien put on for Terri saw was a far cry from the man he was to those who knew him outside of their relationship. Acquaintances who knew Damien would often describe him as a “wannabe gangster.” He would do things like brag about having served time in prison and the crimes he had committed. He seemed to use this history to make himself appear tough. Others would describe it as an attempt to come across as a “bad boy” who was not to be messed with.  

Damien preferred to dress in street-style tracksuits, and he had multiple tattoos on his body. People who had crossed paths with Damien recalled how he actively attempted to give off a dangerous, dominant vibe. He would stare straight through a person to intimidate them and assert his superiority. At one stage, Damien took up bodybuilding and cage fighting, using the cover of the gym and competitions to give him a legitimate excuse for violence.    

Damien had a self-described method of “dealing” with people that he didn’t like. He reportedly gave them three strikes to make him angry and upon the third, he’d say, “You’re F*****”. Once that line was crossed, he would become violent with no care about who they were or who was watching what he did. After the murders, members of the community where Damien once lived reported that he was known for torturing kittens in the area.  

Damien would later claim to have “Split Personality Disorder,”. He stated that he just couldn’t control his violent nature and he would have outbursts out of the blue. In other words, it wasn’t really his fault that he became violent.  

But it wasn’t just Damien’s violent personality which should have been of concern. He was also a known heavy drug abuser and addict, with his substances of choice being cannabis and cocaine. On occasion he would take meth and whilst in prison, he was reported to have indulged in “Spice”. Spice is a highly problematic drug in the UK that puts the user into an almost catatonic state whereby they completely cease to function. It’s especially popular amongst prisoners and the homeless as it makes time “disappear” and they feel as though their sentences or hardships go by faster than they actually are. 

Despite these concerns, Terri chose to stay with Damien. This choice would ultimately cost her and her children their lives.  

The emotional and psychological abuse of Terri Harris prior to the murder: 

The early months of Damien and Terri’s relationship had been much like any other. Damien treated her well and offered many romantic gestures of love. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can now assume that Damien was “love bombing” Terri. To get her to fall in love with him and overlook his shortcomings, he went to great lengths to prove he was a changed man. But shortly after moving in together, Damien began to assert control over Terri. 

He stopped her from seeing her friends and family, and he limited her contact with her mum. He knew Angela didn’t approve of him and he didn’t want Terri getting any ideas about leaving him.  

For the duration of their relationship, Damien didn’t have a job as he was living under a curfew as part of a suspended sentence he had received for his previous convictions, most recently, arson. Therefore, he was completely dependent on Terri’s income to fund his drug addiction. When she had no more money in her account, he would take items from her home to sell. In one such instance, he pawned her laptop which contained precious photos and memories of her children. If Terri stood up to Damien, he would become enraged, using his three-strikes technique to force her to back down. Undoubtedly, Terri didn’t want her kids to see them fighting and she didn’t want Damien to escalate into physical violence either. Time after time, she chose to keep the peace.  

Over the coming months, Damien’s behaviour worsened. His drug addictions compounded his violence both inside and outside the home.  Despite moving away from his home to be with Terri, he continued to spend time around the same people who connected him to the dark underbelly of society. His actions caused great mental and emotional distress for Terri, and she often sought support from her mum. But Angela’s message was the same message Terri didn’t want to hear – he is a dangerous man, and he will never change.  

Just like for many victims of domestic violence, Terri stayed in the hopes that Damien would change and return to the romantic and kind partner he had once been. There was just one problem with her plan. The kind and romantic person she had first met was never who Damien actually was. It was all a ruse to control and manipulate her. And even months later as the situation inside Terri’s home worsened, his plan was still working.  

At some point, the line was crossed between Terri having the choice to stay and that choice being taken away from her completely. By then, Damien was in complete control of Terri, her kids, her finances, and her movements. Even if she had wanted to go, she may have felt that the risk of harm was too high for her, and her children and she might have felt it was better to play it safe until Damien found someone else to target.  

Unfortunately, by that point, it wasn’t only Terri who was being abused and controlled inside that house.  

Lacey was Terri’s 11-year-old daughter. She was described as a very sweet, caring little girl who exhibited many of her mother’s best qualities, such as her compassion and willingness to help others. In the final picture taken of her and her best friend Connie Gent, the pair stood behind a table filled with sweets and biscuits to raise money for a friend’s cancer. Lacey also enjoyed dancing and performing for her family members. She was known as a “girly girl” who was also affectionate, loving and caring toward her family.  

Then there was her big brother, John Paul, who was known as a highly intelligent, respectful boy that was always thoughtful toward others.  He was highly affectionate toward those he was closest to, not being ashamed of wanting a hug from his mum or dad. He loved gaming with his friends and hanging out with his dad.  

On that terrible night in September 2021, Lacey’s best friend, Connie Gent, was staying over at Terri’s house for a sleepover. The two young girls had stayed at each other’s home’s countless times before… but this was to be a night like no other.   

Events leading up to and after the murder: 

The 18th of September 2021 started out like any other for Lacey, John-Paul, Terri, and Damien. The children headed off to school, Terri went to work and Damien set about finding his supply for the day. It took until the afternoon for his dealer to come through with his order and by then the two kids were home from school. Children being in the house had never stopped Damien before and he began to consume large amounts of marijuana and cocaine right there in the living room. As the afternoon wore on, he added alcohol and meth to the mix.  

That evening, while the kids were getting ready for bed, Damien took a hammer to the heads of Terri, Lacey, John Paul, and Connie. He murdered them where they lay, brutally attacking them with such violence that some of the officers involved in processing the scene still receive counselling to this day.   

Now your first thought might be – maybe Damien was drug-crazed or having some kind of drug-induced psychosis and he didn’t actually know what he was doing. Well, let’s lay out some of what happened after the murders and before the police showed up to demonstrate how unlikely that version of events is.  

Just a few hours after bludgeoning, brutalizing, and murdering the family, Damien took John Paul’s X-Box to trade for more drugs. On CCTV footage he can be seen catching a taxi to Sheffield and handing the console over to a dealer. The taxi driver made small talk with Damien during the ride. Of course, the driver had no idea what the man had been up to earlier that evening and so when he asked how Damien’s night was going and go the reply “Not too bad, a bit mad,” he didn’t think much of it.  

After topping up his drug supply, Damien went back to Terri’s house and walked to the local store to buy cigarettes. After going back to the house full of bodies, he made a plan. Damien decided to hurt himself though his reasons for doing so have never been made clear. Maybe it was in an attempt to say the murders were self-defence or maybe it was to garner some sympathy from officers and deflect what he had done? Regardless of his reasons, he wasn’t attempting suicide because the cuts were very shallow and only produced a small amount of blood.  

After cutting himself in the chest and stomach, Damien called his mother and told her he had some self-inflicted stab wounds. She immediately called the police. Minutes later, Damien called the police himself and told them that he had murdered four people.  


After finding the bodies, officers immediately took Damien to the hospital whilst other officers and emergency services arrived and made their way inside the house.  

When questioned after receiving treatment, Damien stated, “The entire house was covered in claret. Bet you don’t usually get four murders in Killamarsh, do you?” “Well, I mean five cause my missus was having a baby.”  

Tragically, this statement was true. Terri was pregnant with Damien’s child. Was that part of the reason why she didn’t want to leave him, in an effort to protect her unborn child?  

Investigators estimated that the murders took place between 9.42 pm and 10 pm that night. Some of Terri’s neighbours had come forward to say that at around that time, they’d heard a commotion coming from the residence. None of the neighbours reported the disturbance to the police.  

Damien admitted to using a hammer to carry out the brutal murders. The hammer would later be identified as a claw hammer. He repeated that he did not realize what he’d done, “…Until I walked in the room and saw my missus and daughter.”  

Note here that he refers to Lacey as his “daughter”. Keep that in mind, because what was discovered soon after the murders will reveal just how twisted and malicious Damien Bendall actually is. 

 The autopsies of Terri, her children and Connie, revealed the truly horrific circumstances of the murders.  

Terri was found in her bedroom on the floor. She had suffered nine blows to the head and face with the claw hammer which would have killed her quickly. Connie Gent, Lacey’s best friend, was found in another room, lying face down with multiple blunt force fractures to the back of her head. John Paul was found lying naked in the bathroom, presumably because he was about to take a shower at the time of his murder. 

But it was Lacey’s murder which would demonstrate how truly horrific and perverted Damien Bendall truly is.  

In contrast to the deaths of her brother, her mother and her best friend, Lacey’s murder was slow and painful. Like the others, she suffered a severe brain injury as well as lacerations to her head from being hit with the claw hammer. But her eyes showed signs of hemorrhaging which indicated she had been strangled as well. 

However, this is far from the worst of what happened to young Lacey. She had survived the initial attack and continued to live for at least another thirty to sixty minutes. Her body was covered in defence wounds, demonstrating how the young girl had fought courageously for her life.  

After bashing her head in, Bendall picked up her body and carried it upstairs into the master bedroom. He put her on the bed, and he proceeded to rape his “daughter” twice.  Once when she was unconscious and dying and once again after she’d taken her last breath. It would later be revealed that Damien had propped a mirror up in such a position that he could watch himself violate Lacey on the bed next to her mother who lay dead on the floor.  

Throughout the investigation, Damien stuck to his story that the murders were the result of a psychological impairment.  He claimed to have suffered a head injury a few years prior which he believed contributed to his mental illness. As a result of these claims and his strange behaviour on the scene when officers arrived, various psychological and neurological tests were performed to assess Damien’s culpability. Unsurprisingly, the tests all confirmed that Damien was perfectly healthy, in control of himself and was well aware of his actions at the time of and after the murders he’d committed. 

Damien pleaded guilty to all four accounts of murder as well as to raping Lacey. He was sentenced to a whole-life order, meaning he will never be released except in exceptional compassionate circumstances. As he handed down the sentence, Mr Justice Sweeney told him: “As the prosecution have said, you carried out vicious, brutal and cruel attacks on a defenceless woman and three young children, during which you went around the house attacking them.” “It was perfectly clear none of the victims stood a chance.” 

It would later be revealed that the probation system which should have monitored Damien during his suspended sentence, had every indication that Damien was likely to re-offend and yet nothing had been done to limit this likelihood. As a result of the murders, officials ordered a review of the Probation Service. The findings of that report identified that the assessment and supervision of Damien were of an “unacceptable standard” and that “critical opportunities” to correct errors were missed. It also identified how a lack of qualified probation officers as well as overwhelming caseloads meant that Damien’s case was assigned to a brand-new probation officer who hadn’t even completed their basic training. One probation officer involved in Damien’s case was fired for gross misconduct and another was suspended pending investigation.  

Tragically, Damien’s violence against Terri wasn’t his first foray into domestic abuse. A former partner had made similar allegations against him which she reported to the authorities. That report was not properly documented, and it wasn’t passed on to his probation officer. Just one year before Damien slaughtered Terri, her two kids and Connie, probation services were contacted by the police with concerns about his inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl who was in foster care.  Once again, these concerns were not recorded correctly nor were they addressed any further despite increasing Damien’s risk of sexual harm toward other young girls that the relationship could have indicated.  

The report also revealed other troubling aspects of Damien’s personality. Not only did he model his behaviour off thugs and gangsters – he also claimed to be a high-ranking member of a white supremacist group called the Aryan Brotherhood. Whilst the inspectors responsible for making the report found no evidence that he was in such a position, they did note that some of his tattoos were Nazi inspired insignia. The concerns about his involvement in white supremacist action seemed to be the focus of his probation officers’ attention, rather than the reports of Damien’s escalating violence or sexual harm.  

Terri was not made aware of any of these concerns and although Damien gave her address as his residence for his curfew, there is no record that Terri was aware of the conditions of his suspended sentence.  

Ultimately the report concluded that if Damien’s case had been handled appropriately with all risk factors recorded, he likely would have been kept in prison rather than released under supervision which had enabled him to cross paths with Terri in the first place.  

“It is possible that, had a holistic assessment been provided to court (including his pattern of offending against Asian men, use of callous and organised violence against prison staff, an analysis of previous noncompliance and the most recent high risk of serious harm assessments), an immediate, rather than suspended, prison sentence might have been imposed,”  

The victims’ families’ personal statements: 

Though many will mourn the loss of the Killamarsh murder victims, the most affected are Lacey and John Paul’s father, Jason Bennett, their grandmother and Terri’s mother, Angela, and Connie’s parents.  

Jason stated how the murders of his children had “destroyed and taken my life away”. 

“I am living in a continual nightmare,” “I have a story in my head of how they died, I live their trauma and feel their pain; it feels like a recurring punishment.” 

Before his children’s funeral, the heartbroken father requested that all those mourning his children sing a song with him that the trio would sing on full blast on road trips.  “Me and my babies always used to sing a certain song in our car and belt it out like nothing else matters. I’m trying to stay strong and while I’m carrying both my babies on my shoulders, I’m determined to belt the song they love out loud as if we were in our car. Sing along if you’d like and give me hope and strength and celebrate my beautiful, happy babies. My love to everyone.” Below his post, he added a video of the song “Never Enough” from the film The Greatest Showman 

Jason was seen weeping at his children’s graves whilst laying down flowers.  In a tribute dedicated to his daughter Lacey whom he called the “TikTok Queen,” he said that he was lost without her. He left a note that read: “Look after your big brother and don’t wind him up.” 

Jason recalled how John would not hurt a fly, literally. If he saw an insect, he would carefully put it outside,” In the note he left for his son he wrote, “My beautiful son, keep your kind heart shining while the angels are looking after you for me.” 

Jason has publicly stated how he will never forgive himself for being unable to protect his children from Damien.”I didn’t protect my beautiful babies enough from the monsters and now they have been suddenly taken away from me. 

Terri’s mother Angela expressed the bone deep grief she feels at the loss of her child as well as her grandchildren. “Terri, Lacey and John meant the world to me and were the most precious people in my life. Not being able to give them a kiss and a hug and tell them I love them breaks my heart.” 

She stated how she would forever regret allowing Damien into her and her daughter’s homes. Angela said that he’d, “Taken my world from me,”. To this day, she has nightmares about Damien and the final terrifying moments of her daughter’s and grandchildren’s lives. She speaks of being unable to cope with the sympathy coming her way. It’s hardest when she sees children, which reminds her of the fact that she’ll never get to see her beloved grandkids again.  

Connie Gent’s father, Charlie Gent, also paid tribute to his daughter and stated that losing her has “completely torn my life apart”. “The man who carried out the crimes can only be described as truly evil and should never be free from incarceration, just like the families of the victims in this case will never be free from their life sentence as a result of the shocking and abhorrent crimes he committed on a defenceless woman and children,”. 

Just like Jason Bennett, Charlie expressed his guilt at being unable to protect Connie when she needed him most. “My little girl has gone I can’t even put into words or even how 2 feel or react rite now shouldn’t even be writing this.”Now have 2 live with the fact I was helpless 2 protect her as u always promised n she’s gone.”Fly safe baby girl I love you with all my heart n always will. Gonna miss u like crazy”. 


While Damien received an appropriate sentence for the horrendous crimes, he committed it’s hard not to feel like it should never have been able to happen in the first place. This is yet another case where the system let down those it was designed to safeguard. There were many missed opportunities to protect the community from Damien and yet, through the actions of individuals and the larger system, he was allowed the freedom to carry out four horrific murders.   

We can only hope that the recent increase in funding for the probation system will help to stop any similar failures.  

But this story also belongs to Terri and her children. Maybe if there were more effective support services to help people in violent and controlling relationships to leave safely, then Terri might have had the confidence to leave Damien when she knew something wasn’t right. Unfortunately, people like Damien know how to exploit their partner’s vulnerabilities and take advantage of their kindness to get exactly what they want. In this situation though, it’s hard to pinpoint what Damien hoped to achieve by killing Terri, Lacey, John-Paul, and Connie. Was it a moment of rage, was it an ego-boosting demonstration of his superiority? Or did he simply enjoy the violence of their deaths?  


Killamarsh murders: Shocked court hears horrifying details of serial murderer Damien Bendall’s killing spree | The Star 

Killamarsh murders: Damien Bendall given whole-life order – BBC News 

Damien Bendall, 31, ‘raped girl, 11, before murdering her alongside pal, 11, brother, 14, and mum at sleepover’ | The Sun 

Damien Bendall sentenced to life in prison after confessing to Killamarsh murders. (nypost.com) 

Dad makes heartbreaking request to guests attending funeral of his ‘beautiful babies’ after kids killed at sleepover | The Sun 

Who was Lacey Bennett (Pregnant partner murdered by boyfriend) (wikifoxnews.com) 

(20+) Terri Harris | Facebook 

Terri Harris’ mum’s never-ending agony over ‘monster’ who murdered her only child and grandchildren – YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk)