Calgary

'I'm sorry, dad': Accused murderer tells undercover cops 3-year-old's apology enraged him

After Justin Bennett punched his three-year-old stepdaughter in the head, she looked up at him and said "I'm sorry, dad," but he continued his fatal attack, according to what the accused murderer told an undercover police officer.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details of child abuse

Justin Bennett, left, was charged with second-degree murder in the Oct. 5, 2017, death of Ivy Wick, right, who was the daughter of his then-girlfriend Helen Wordsworth. (Facebook/gofundme.com)

After Justin Bennett punched his three-year-old stepdaughter in the head, she looked up at him and said "I'm sorry, dad." But he continued his fatal attack, according to what the accused murderer told an undercover police officer.

Bennett is on trial for second-degree murder in the 2017 death of Ivy Wick, 3, who was the daughter of his then-girlfriend Helen Wordsworth.

Ivy was beaten on Sept. 27, 2017, and died eight days later, on Oct. 5, after she was brought to hospital suffering serious head and brain injuries.

The 27-year-old was charged a year after Wick's death, following a lengthy undercover police operation that ended with a graphic description of Bennett's rage against the child who had interrupted his video game.

With a murder investigation underway, Bennett confessed after his new group of friends promised they could help keep him out of trouble.

A video of Bennett's confession was presented by prosecutors Sue Kendall and Tom Spark for Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon. A publication ban protects the identities of the undercover officers involved.

Around 11 a.m. on the morning she was injured, Ivy was put in a timeout while having a tantrum.

Wordsworth took a shower but the child kept making noise.

'I smashed her head'

Bennett told the officer he checked to make sure Wordsworth was still in the shower before punching Ivy in the head. 

"I smashed her head," he said. 

"After I hit her the first time, she looked up at me she said, 'I'm sorry, dad.' 

"And after she looked at me and said, 'sorry,' I just f--kin' threw her against the wall. F--k your 'sorry,' basically."

"I pushed her pretty hard ... I snapped," he admitted.

"She got f--ked up. I saw it on her face after I smacked her head off the wall. She was pretty dazed, couldn't walk a straight line."

'I don't wanna be labelled a monster'

That's when Wordsworth, who was still in the shower, heard Ivy scream. Thinking the child was still having a tantrum, she ordered her daughter into her bedroom.

Ivy began to run to her room but Bennett tripped her. 

"I have like a kind of a hate towards her," he told the undercover officer.

"I was tired of it, so tired of taking care of an ungrateful kid. One that doesn't f--kin' respect anything."

Bennett said he didn't tell anyone what he'd done. 

"I tried to kill myself after that so I didn't have to face any repercussions with anything. I thought it may be an easy way out.… I don't wanna be labelled a monster."

Previous abuse detailed

But Bennett told the officer that the fatal blows weren't the first time he had hit Ivy.

"The first time I knocked her out, when I pushed her up against that corner of the wall … she kinda like tensed up, started like body spazzing."

"I f--kin' smacked her around a couple times," he said.

Bennett told the undercover officer that Wordsworth had no idea what he'd done.

On Monday, defence lawyer Allan Fay tried to undermine his client's detailed confession by pinning the murder on the child's mother.

Defence pins blame on mother

Wordsworth was questioned by Fay, who pointed out that there were only two people home when the girl was fatally injured, and he suggested to the weeping witness that she was the one responsible for her daughter's death.

"I didn't do anything," said Wordsworth, sobbing.

Wordsworth repeatedly denied Fay's suggestion that she had been the one to snap and harm Ivy.

She testified that at the time of her daughter's death, she was living with Bennett, working at a 7-Eleven.

Bennett didn't have a job and would spend his girlfriend's money on his addictions and obsessions: alcohol, drugs, video games and collectible figurines. 

When they met new friends — undercover officers who were tasked with building relationships with Bennett and Wordsworth — the couple was broke and facing homelessness. 

The friendships led to work, paid in cash. They were treated to an attractive lifestyle of travel, bars, restaurants and steady income.  

Wordsworth testified Bennett loved his new life and said he'd do anything to stay in the group.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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