In #Dead2Me Terri’s mother and father and her best friend describe how Terri first met violent psychopath Bendall and how their concerns grew as they got to know him better.
Terri’s mother Angela Smith and father Lawrence Harris describe their anguish as more and more details of Bendall’s violent past came to light – and their horror when he was bailed under curfew to their daughter’s house after a court appearance while living at her home on Chandos Crescent.
Three months after Bendall’s bail with conditions to live at Terri’s home with her children he killed her, her two children John Bennett and Lacey Bennett and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent with a claw hammer, also raping Lacey as she lay dying.
In “Damien Bendall” – The murder of Terri Harris, John Bennett, Lacey Bennett, Connie Gent, relatives’ moving testimony is supported by evidence from the police and legal teams at the heart of each case - alongside expert analysis by leading professional criminologist Honor Doro Townshend.
Mum Angela describes how after he and Terri met online, Swindon native Bendall would initially travel up to Derbyshire for weekends until after a few visits “he stayed and never went back”.
She shares the chilling moment when alarm bells first started ringing for her while discussing her dog with Bendall.
She said: “We met up again and I just had to have my dog put to sleep and we were talking about vet’s bills and that is when he said to me ‘Oh, my friend had a dog and he couldn’t afford the vets bills. So, I hit it over the head with a house brick’.
Read more: Killamarsh murders: Hammer-wielding Damien Bendall jailed for life after murdering his partner and three children
"And I was like, Whoa! No. This is so not right now. This is when I was first really concerned.”
Angela later tells how her “Tomboy” daughter’s behaviour changed as she began wearing low-cut tops and dying her hair, while becoming more distant as Bendall exerted control over her.
Barrister Sallie Jenkins and criminologist Honor Doro Townshend describes Bendall’s violent past – one which Terri was completely unaware of.
His previous offending included two robberies – one at knifepoint – and "significant” prison officer assaults.
Ms Townshend tells the documentary: “It seems quite unlikely to me, looking at Bendall’s past relationships and also just his life that he’s going to be able to form healthy connections with another human being.
"And so that means that Terri is at risk - at risk of Bendall falling back into these negative patterns of behaviour that he showed for his entire life at this point.”
During the programme Terri’s best friend Holly Holmes, father Lawrence and mum Angela speak of their torment upon learning that Bendall had been given a suspended jail term for an arson charge and bailed back to Terri’s address.
Holly said: “Nobody contacted Terri to check that she was happy to have him released there or his tag registered there or anything. He was just left to get on with it.”
Angela said: “He was gone a day and I’m afraid back the next day. So, he didn’t get put away.
"And I can remember saying to my husband, like, what do we do now?"
Bendall was eventually jailed for a whole life term after admitting the murders following a year of legal wrangling during which his legal team worked towards a mental health defence case.
After he was jailed video footage showing the moment Bendall was arrested outside Terri’s house was released to police as he told them “basically, I need the police and the ambulance and that, cause erm... I’ve killed four people”.
Commenting on the footage, Ms Townshend says: “The hallmark of it, is the calmness with which Bendall spoke to the police.
"He doesn’t reference them as being anything to do with him. He just references them as people. And that’s quite removed and quite dark I think - because supposedly Bendall loved Terri and her children.”
#Dead2Me “Damien Bendall” – The murder of Terri Harris, John Bennett, Lacey Bennett, Connie Gent will available on broadcast on crime and investigation channel from September 25.