Mother and three children died as result of ‘violent attack’, inquest hears

The four bodies were discovered by Derbyshire Police on September 19.

Flowers near to the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, near Sheffield,
Flowers near to the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, near Sheffield,

A mother and three children who were found dead at a house died as a result of a “violent attack”, an inquest opening has heard.

The bodies of John Paul Bennett, 13, Lacey Bennett, 11, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, were discovered at a property in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, near Sheffield, on September 19.

Damien Bendall, 31, has since been charged with all four murders and has been remanded into custody by a crown court judge.

An inquest opening at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court heard a relative of Bendall had called Dorset Police to say the defendant had sustained a self-inflicted stab wound.

Area coroner Peter Nieto was told officers were met by Bendall at the address in Chandos Crescent and following a further conversation with the suspect, entered the house where they found the bodies of the four victims.

Mr Nieto said the inquest would be suspended until the conclusion of the pending criminal trial.

The coroner dealt with the identification details for the three family members separately from those of Connie, who he was told was staying over with Lacey and her family.

During a short hearing on Monday, Detective Inspector Graham Prince, of Derbyshire Police, told the court John Paul and Lacey were identified by their father, Jason Bennett.

The officer said Connie was identified by her father, Charles Gent, and Ms Harris by her father Lawrence Harris.

Killamarsh deaths
The father to some of the victims left flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent (Danny Lawson/PA)

Giving evidence to the court, DI Prince said: “At 7.26am on Sunday September 19, Derbyshire Police were contacted by Dorset Police after Dorset Police had received a telephone call about the safety of Damien Bendall.

“That phone call to Dorset Police was made by a relative of Bendall.

“They indicated to Dorset Police that Bendall had suffered a stab wound that was self-inflicted.

“As a result of that telephone call… officers were despatched to Chandos Crescent.

“Police arrived at 0739 hours and were met by Bendall. Bendall indicated to the officers that he had stabbed himself. As a result of the conversation with officers, police officers entered… concerned for the safety of the occupants.

Killamarsh deaths
Messages left by the father to one of the victims on bouquets of flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent (Danny Lawson/PA)

“Once inside that address they located Terri Harris, John Paul Bennett, Lacey Bennett and Connie Gent.

“All were deceased.

“A short time later paramedics arrived at the scene, entered the address and confirmed that all four occupants of the premises were deceased.”

Dealing with Connie’s death separately, Mr Nieto said to DI Prince: “My understanding is that her death was consistent with a violent attack.”

“That’s correct sir,” the officer replied.

DI Prince said Bendall was arrested on suspicion of four murders and was taken to hospital, and then a police station.

The coroner said he understood that post-mortem examinations had taken place and that early indications were that a violent act had caused the deaths.

Adjourning the hearing and suspending the inquests pending criminal proceedings, the coroner said: “Obviously extremely tragic events have occurred and obviously everybody’s thoughts are with the family of the victims.”

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