News Queensland Brenden Bennetts found guilty of schoolgirl’s murder, sentenced to life

Brenden Bennetts found guilty of schoolgirl’s murder, sentenced to life

Jayde Kendall
Jayde Kendall's remains were found on a rural property. Photo: Queensland Police Service
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The father of murdered schoolgirl Jayde Kendall has warned the parole board to “think about your own children” when considering releasing her killer Brenden Bennetts in the future.

Bennetts was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday after a jury took just four hours to reach a guilty verdict for murder.

The 21-year-old had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the start of his trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, the first time he had taken responsibility for the 16-year-old’s death in 2015.

Justice Ann Lyons said Bennetts had betrayed the trust of an inexperienced girl, whose death had had a profound impact on her family, friends and the Gatton community where she lived.

“Your ability to calmly detach from events around you is alarming and concerning as is your calculated web of lies and deception,” Justice Lyons said.

“You showed no respect for her body after death, just as you had shown no respect for her in the last moments of her life.”

Justice Lyons’ comments were echoed outside court by Jayde’s father Bruce Morrissey who sent a message to the parole board who may one day decide to release Bennetts back into the community.

“Think about those that you love and care about around you and then ask yourself would you feel safe, him being around your daughters, your children,” Mr Morrissey said.

Jayde was last seen alive getting into Bennetts’ distinctive red Toyota Corolla after school about 3.20pm on Friday, August 14, 2015.

Prosecutor Vicki Loury QC argued it was likely Jayde was dead not long after 4pm and her body dragged to an isolated field on an Upper Tenthill property.

Ms Loury said in her closing submission Bennetts was a “very good actor” and destroyed all things linking him to Jayde that afternoon, including her belongings and text messages showing the pair were meeting up for sexual activity.

“He was thinking he was clever, but little did he know those messages could be recovered,” Ms Loury said.

Jayde Kendall murder
Bruce Morrissey (centre), father of Jayde Kendall, and Denis Morrissey (right), grandfather of Jayde Kendall, speak to the media outside court. Photo: AAP

The trial heard Bennetts texted himself Jayde’s bank card PIN at 3.58pm then shielded his face from an ATM camera as he withdrew $70 from her account at dark.

Defence barrister Michael Copley QC argued Jayde’s death could have been from sexual misadventure as he was known to have choked three previous girlfriends while they were ihaving sex.

But Ms Loury said Bennetts’ “cascade of lies” and attempts to conceal evidence were “out of proportion” to an accidental killing.

“He let her family search for her in the vain hope she was alive,” Ms Loury said.

“You can almost see the cogs turning in his head to make up a version that makes sense.”

The court heard Bennetts searched YouTube for “best way to dispose of a body” the day before he killed Jayde.

The prosecution was not required to prove what motivated the 18-year-old to kill, but Ms Loury argued it showed what was going on in his head during the murder.

“He was contemplating killing and disposing of a body and one day later does just that,” she said.

“You just don’t know how she died.

“You will never know why he did this. While there may be a reason, it is only known to him.”