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A large investigation was launched after 30-year-old Madison Wright went missing on Friday, 22 July last year.
Within a couple of days, her partner, Garry Bennett was arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Whilst in custody, messages were found on his phone indicating that Madison had felt controlled within their relationship and wanted to leave him. Further enquiries continued to highlight Bennett as being involved in Madison’s disappearance.
On Saturday, 30 July, Essex Police sadly found Madison Wright’s body in Wat Tyler Country Park.
A number of specialists from across the UK were bought in to assist with the investigation. These included a forensic anthropologist, a botanist and an entomologist, who supported Essex Police’s Serious Crime Directorate in finding out what had happened to Madison.
Following this investigative work from almost 100 Essex Police officers and staff, Garry Bennetts was charged in connection with her murder on 31 July and remanded into custody.
After pleading not guilty, Bennett’s trial began at Basildon Crown Court on Monday, 13 March. The jury heard how prior to his arrest, Bennett’s had been searching for information and news relating to Wat Tyler Country Park and searching for ‘incidents in Basildon today’ on the internet.
It was revealed that Bennett’s had messaged Madison’s family to say how he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. Messages Bennett had sent to Madison after her disappearance were also shown to the court, including him saying that he had been to Wat Tyler Country Park to look for her and he described it as “our place, it has been from the start and it always will be.”
It took a jury just two and a half hours to decide that Garry Bennett was guilty of murder. The judge described how “This is one of the most overwhelming cases of murder I have seen in a long time, and one of the most distressing.”
Today, Garry Bennett, 37 of Caister Drive, Pitsea has been sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 21 years.
Judge Samantha Leigh said:
"I would like that thank the whole Essex MIT team and the lengths they went to collate CCTV and ANPR and their efforts to put everything together and make a fantastically solid case against the defendant.
"I am certainly very grateful. It really is good old fashioned police work."
Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, Head of Major Crime said “Garry Bennett is a schemer, a liar and a murderer. It didn’t take the jury long yesterday to conclude that. But today, it is not about Garry Bennett.
“Today is about Madison Wright. It’s about remembering what Bennett took from Madison’s family. A much-loved mother, daughter and sister.
“Madison’s family have had to sit through a long and painful trial, listening to details, of how their beloved daughter’s body had been left under a pile of debris in Wat Tyler Park.
“All because Bennett was too cowardly to ever admit what he had done.
“We cannot imagine the pain they are going through but I would like to personally commend them for their strength, throughout this investigation.
“This investigation and trial have revealed to us that Madison was a victim of domestic abuse and controlling behaviour from Bennett.
“I am urging anyone who has been personally affected by domestic abuse to get in touch with Essex Police, or one of our support services including “Next Chapter” in order to get the support you deserve.
“Madison’s family would like to thank everyone involved in the investigation including Essex Police and the numerous witnesses who came forward in getting justice for Madison.”
Chief Inspector Dan Mchugh, District Commander for Basildon said “Madison’s disappearance and tragic death has had a devastating impact on the local community in Basildon.
“Madison’s family and the police have received an enormous amount of support from the public and I’d like to personally thank those people for the compassion they showed.
“I appreciate that whilst this trial has concluded, the details that have been revealed around the domestic abuse that Madison was victim of, may be distressing to some.
“Any form of violence against women and girls will not be accepted and I’m urging anyone who has been affected or need to get help to get in contact with us”
If you would like advice or support and aren't ready to speak with us, our partners are also here to help you.
Next Chapter (thenextchapter.org.uk) is a domestic abuse charity working across the areas of Tendring, Colchester, Maldon, Chelmsford, Braintree & Uttlesford. They provide free and confidential services to support people who are currently experiencing, or have previously experienced domestic abuse. They can also work with you to create a safety plan for you and your family, to help if a situation escalates.
If you, or someone you know, may be suffering from abuse, stalking or harassment, please report it.
If you need to speak with us urgently but fear someone may overhear, call 999 and press 55 when instructed to do so. This will alert the operator that you’re in a dangerous situation and need help.
Further information can also be found on our website and if it will help you stay safe, please clear your search history afterwards.