A GRAN has told how she was "scared" for her pregnant daughter before her boyfriend killed her and three children.
Damien Bendall bludgeoned Lacey, 11, her brother John, 13, their pregnant mum Terri Harris, 35, and pal Connie Gent, 11, to death.
He also raped little Lacey as he rampaged through the home in Killamarsh wielding a claw hammer.
Terri's mum Angie Smith has now spoken of her torment and said she believes her daughter was being controlled.
She told ITV News: "I told her I was scared for her – that maybe I’d get a phone call one day saying he’d beaten her up.
“She seemed to watch everything she said around him. He was trying to stop her from coming to see us. Her friends were messaging me saying we don’t hear from her any more.
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“My girl wasn’t my girl any more. He was controlling her.”
Bendall was handed a rare whole life order, which means he will die behind bars, last month.
It then emerged the monster was able to go on a killing spree thanks to a string of probation failings.
Bendall was on a suspended sentence for arson and wearing an electronic tag when he moved in with Terri.
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He had previous convictions for violent offences and ex claimed he had domestically abused her.
Wiltshire Police's child sexual exploitation unit had also made inquiries about him with the Probation Service.
Despite this, Bendall was able to go and live with Terri without being sent back to jail.
The killer gave her address for his curfew order but officers dealing with the case did not ask Terri if she consented to him giving her address, nor did they visit the house to assess the levels of risk.
Angie says her daughter was convinced he had changed his ways and loved her and the children.
But she believes had her daughter known the full extent of Bendall's violent past, she would have left him.
Angie said: “What if she was just waiting for that one moment to say, ‘No, this person isn’t who I thought he was?’ But that never came.
"It’s disgusting. So many lives wrecked just because someone couldn’t do their job properly.”
A scathing report found the Probation Service's handling of Bendall was of an "unacceptable standard" at every stage.
The killer's grim rap sheet dated back to 2004 but there was still a plethora of missed chances that led to "serious consequences".
How you can get help
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
- Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Angie said she considered applying to the police to find out if Bendall had a history of abuse but was scared Terri would received it and the monster would find out.
She is now launching a campaign called Terri's Fight to make it easier for concerned family members to receive information about their relative's partners.
Angie said: "We’re just a normal family. If it can happen to us, it can happen to anybody.
“My daughter was the 80th person to be killed in 2021 by a violent partner. We can’t keep losing that amount of women every year to domestic violence.
“This is our love for her. And if we can extend that and help anybody else to get out of an abusive relationship, then we’ve achieved something out of this mess.”
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Bendall went from room-to-room bludgeoning Terri and the children to death with a claw hammer.
He last month pleaded guilty to four counts of murder and one count of rape following the horror attack in September 2021.
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