The father of two children who were killed during a sleepover massacre has made a heartbreaking plea to friends and family attending their funeral.
John Paul Bennett, 13, Lacey Bennett, 11, their mother Terri Harris, 35, and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, were found dead by officers at a property in Killamarsh, Derbyshire, last month.
Damien Bendall – the boyfriend of Terri Harris – has been charged with all four murders and has been remanded in custody. The 31-year-old is due to stand trial in March next year.
In preparation for his children’s funeral, father Jason Bennett has issued a plea to those planning to attend in a heartbreaking post on social media.
Mr Bennett wrote: ‘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.
Jason Bennett, father of two children (pictured with Jason) who were killed during a sleepover massacre, has asked mourners to his children’s favourite song when they attend their funeral
Lacey Bennett (right), 11, and her 13-year-old brother John Paul (left) were both found dead alongside the bodies of their mother Terri Harris and their best friend 11-year-old Connie Gent
‘Sing along if you like and give me hope and strength and celebrate my beautiful happy babies.’
Below the post is the music video for Never Enough from the movie musical The Greatest Showman with an additional note, adding: ‘Practice if you like…all my love to you all.’
In the wake of their deaths, the devastated father collapsed in tears as he laid flowers for his children Lacey and John Paul near the home where they were killed.
Pictured: Connie Gent, 11, was at a sleepover where she was found dead alongside friend Lacey, John and their mother Terri Harris
Mr Bennett stayed at the scene for more than half-an-hour, and said he was ‘heartbroken; million pieces; shattered’.
In a statement, he said: ‘Life will never be the same again. Families have been left broken by the awful loss of John, Lacey, Terri and Connie.
‘I’ve been left broken. I’m devastated. John and Lacey came into our lives and brought so much love and happiness and were adored by myself and their big sisters, forever loved and remembered.
‘We would also like to thank everyone for their loving support and our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the tragic loss of four precious lives.’
Connie’s father Charles Gent said: ‘The pain is indescribable. I wake up every morning hoping this has all been a terrible nightmare, but it’s not. It’s the unbearable reality that my little girl has gone.
‘Connie was an absolute superstar in every way. She had a gift – if someone was down she could instantly make them feel okay.
‘She lit up every room she went in and meant something to everyone she came across, even in hard times. Connie had the ability to keep everyone smiling.
Pictured: Terri Harris (left) and (right) with her children Lacey Bennett with John Paul Bennett
Pictured: Floral tributes left near to the scene in Chandos Crescent, Killamarsh, last month
‘This by far is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through; it still doesn’t even feel real.
‘Fly safe my angel. They came for you and left me behind. I could never say goodbye, so I’ll see you soon. I love you more than you can possibly imagine forever and always.’
Ms Harris’s parents, Angela Smith and Lawrence Harris, issued a joint statement through the force in which they said: ‘Our Terri, our daughter, our world, our everything. From the day she was born she was our princess and remained so until she was cruelly taken from us.
‘She was an amazing mum; her babies were her world.
‘Terri would put herself out not just for her family and friends but anyone who needed her help. She absolutely loved her work as a care worker and would go above and beyond for the people she cared for.
Pictured: Damien Bendall is next due to appear at Nottingham Crown Court on November 26
‘She will be missed more than any words can ever express, not only by her family but by anyone who had the privilege to have been in her life.’
An inquest hearing into the four deaths was told all victims died as a result of a ‘violent attack’.
Bendall, of Chandos Crescent, is due to enter a plea to the charges at Nottingham Crown Court on November 26.