Cleo Smith: Australian man pleads guilty to abducting girl, 4, from campsite

Australian national Terence Darnell Kelly has allegedly pleaded guilty to abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith in the country’s west coast last year.

The 36-year-old admitted to the crime of abduction during a brief court appearance from a Perth prison in a virtual hearing in Carnarvon on Monday.

Mr Kelly could face a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of forcibly abducting a child under the age of 16.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 20 March at a western Australian state district court in Perth.

The accused has not entered a plea against other criminal charges like assaulting a public officer as the charges will be heard on a later date.

Cleo had gone missing for 18 days from her family’s tent at a coastal campsite in western Australia in October last year. She was found alone after intense efforts in a house in the small town of Carnavon.

“Cleo is alive and well. One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Cleo,’” western Australia’s police deputy commissioner Col Blanch had said shortly after the four-year-old was found.

The police had to break into the house, after which they found the girl in one of the rooms.

Her parents had said their “family is whole again” after their daughter was found, thanking “all those involved in the rescue of our daughter”.

“We are humbled by the love and support that we have received from not only our local community but the whole of Western Australia and across the country,” they had said.

“We are so thankful that our little girl is back within our arms and our family is whole again. As we try to get on with out lives, we ask that you respect our privacy.”

After 18 days of intensive hunting, the police formally charged Mr Kelly for Cleo’s abduction.

He was taken to a hospital shortly after his arrest for self-inflicted injuries.

A fellow prisoner reportedly “beat him black and blue,” according to an unconfirmed report, while another report said he attempted self harm.

According to a report, Mr Kelly is a recluse who frequently posts on social media about his vast collection of toys.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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