…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
Rhys Bennett, a man who brutally raped and murdered Jill Barclay in Aberdeen on September 17, 2022, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Bennett confessed to sexually assaulting and killing the 47-year-old woman during his appearance at the High Court in Edinburgh.
The court learned that after the rape, Bennett poured petrol on Jill Barclay and set her on fire.
He received a life sentence with a minimum of 24 years before being eligible for parole.
Lord Arthurson, while sentencing Bennett, described his crimes as unimaginably wicked and medieval in their barbarity.
Grief and Tributes from the Victim’s Family
Jill Barclay, who leaves behind a partner and two children aged six and eight, was remembered by her family as a deeply loved life partner, mother, and daughter.
Speaking outside the court, Detective Superintendent Andrew Patrick read a statement on behalf of the family, paying tribute to Jill Barclay.
They expressed that she did not deserve to die that day, especially in such an unspeakably brutal manner.
The family condemned Bennett, stating that he had taken so much from them and forever changed their lives.
Details of the Crime and Encounter
Rhys Bennett, 23, from Ballingry in Fife, wore a grey tracksuit as he appeared in court.
According to prosecutor Lorraine Glancy KC, forensic evidence indicated that Jill Barclay was still alive when she was set on fire.
Bennett had no prior connection to her and encountered her while she was on a night out.
They met at the Spider’s Web pub in the Dyce area, where Bennett and his companions had been drinking.
He followed Jill Barclay as she made her way home and launched a vicious attack, characterized by extreme, sustained, and feral violence, as described by Lord Arthurson.
The Brutal Assault and Fatal Encounter
Rhys Bennett assaulted Jill Barclay in Farburn Gatehouse, repeatedly hitting, kicking, and stomping on her head and body.
He also slammed her head against a down pipe.
Subsequently, he raped her before pouring petrol on her and igniting it. Witness accounts described hearing Jill Barclay’s screams and pleas for help.
Security camera footage captured parts of her final moments, showing her cautiousness and attempts to distance herself from Bennett.
The footage ceased at around the time the screams were heard.
The Cause of Death and Sentencing
Pathologists conducting a post-mortem examination on Jill Barclay revealed that her cause of death was a combination of blunt force head and facial injuries, external compression of the neck, the effects of fire, and acute alcohol intoxication.
Although her death would have occurred even without alcohol intoxication, it was suggested that the alcohol may have hindered her ability to save herself and lowered her threshold for the fatal effects of neck compression.
Lord Arthurson emphasized during sentencing that Bennett burned Jill Barclay alive while she was still alive.
Impact on the Victim’s Family and Final Sentencing
Lord Arthurson acknowledged that Jill Barclay had led a full and active life and expressed the devastation inflicted upon her family.
He stated that Bennett had robbed her of a future and shattered the hopes and dreams of her loved ones.
The court received impact statements from Jill Barclay’s partner, her elder child, and her mother and aunt, expressing the profound loss suffered by the family.
Lord Arthurson acknowledged that no court sentence could ever fully compensate the family for their tragedy.
Bennett also admitted to attempting to destroy evidence by burning his clothes and washing others.
He received a combined punishment of 24 years for rape and murder, as well as four years for attempting to defeat the ends of justice, to be served concurrently.
Additionally, he was placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.
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