One of the first things police did when they arrested serial rapist Andrew James Benn in January last year – bringing to an end his four-year reign of terror across the Hunter – was take from him an important piece of evidence and the tool he had used to meet and then attack 14 teenage girls and young women.
His mobile phone.
Police combed through his call logs, text messages and social media accounts, working backwards and contacting women to see if they had been attacked by Benn.
This led police to uncover phone calls between Benn and five victims, and messages from Benn to four others.
They also went back and spoke to women who had come forward years before, but had decided against taking the matter any further.
Benn had become more erratic and violent in the lead-up to his arrest and the frequency of his attacks had increased, from once every few months to four times in the five days before he was caught. When detectives examined Benn's internet search history, the results they found were disturbing, even for Benn.
On January 6, 2017 – just nine days before his arrest – Benn had made a number of searches from his mobile phone, including: "can you add something to crack to make someone pass out" and "what can you add to a crack pipe to make a woman delusional to have sex" and, finally, "can you had (sic) a substance to ice to make someone delusional".
Three days later, on January 9, he violently raped a woman four times in her home.
The next day he raped another woman three times.
Two nights later he picked an 18-year-old woman up, met her mother and took her for a drive where he forced her to perform oral sex on him.
The next night he picked up Riley* from her home, drove her to Cessnock, under the guise of watching the sunrise, and then indecently assaulted her.
Riley fled on foot, called the police and hid from Benn.
Riley was the first of the 14 women to make a statement to police.
She would be the last to be attacked.
As Benn's attacks increased in the lead-up to his arrest, he may have appeared more erratic, but Riley said Benn thought he had perfected his craft.
"He had been getting away with it for so long," she said.
“The fact that he didn't have to use different names, wasn't trying to hide his face. He thought he was on top of the world."
Detective Lauren Park called and texted Benn on January 14 and Benn called her back.
"I need to speak to you because we've received a complaint from a female who you met up with last night," Detective Park said, according to a statement of agreed facts.
"What's all lies," came Benn's reply.
Benn agreed to meet in person and came to Maitland police station where he was arrested. He was interviewed and denied doing anything illegal.
By March 30, 2017, more victims had come forward to provide statements.
Detective Park visited Benn at Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at Silverwater Correctional Centre to see if he would consent to a further interview. He didn't even want to hear the allegations.
*Not her real name.