A 31-year-old man appeared in court charged with the murders of a mother and three children.

Damien Bendall was present during a 13-minute court hearing today, and is alleged to have raped and murdered 11-year-old Lacey Bennett.

He is also accused of killing her brother John Paul Bennett, 13, their mother Terri Harris, 35, who was his partner, and Lacey's friend Connie Gent, 11.

Bendall was not asked to enter any pleas, but the charges came after four bodies were found in a house in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, South Yorkshire on September 19, 2021.

The four victims were allegedly killed between September 17 and September 19.

According to Press Association, Bendall appeared at Derby Crown Court wearing a grey sweatshirt, blue jeans and a white face mask.

He was surrounded by five officers in the dock.

Judge Nirmal Shant QC remanded Bendall, of Chandos Crescent, in custody to appear at the same court for a plea hearing on January 18. He is due to stand trial on March 1.

Tributes were paid to the three youngsters and the parent when news broke of what happened.

The trio spent their early school years at Woodhouse West Primary in Coisley Hill, Yorkshire Live reports.

And Lacey and Connie had only just started at Outwood Academy City that month, too.

Headteacher of Woodhouse West Primary School Anne-Marie Bailey led the tributes to them.

She said: “Lacey and Connie, both new to Y7 (sic), will have been excited by moving on in the next phase of their education. Their potential, hopes and dreams have now been cut tragically short.

“Lacey is remembered by her teachers as a kind and helpful girl with a wonderful imagination, who loved to dance. Her smile brightened everyone’s day.

“Connie was a gentle girl who cherished her friends and enjoyed writing creative stories. She was generous of spirit and had a big heart.

“John Paul was a member of the school several years ago and staff remember an enthusiastic, popular boy who enjoyed sports and entertained everyone with his fabulous sense of humour.”

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