Australia: Man jailed for kidnapping 4-year-old girl from campsite | world news

Cleo Smith was locked in a bedroom at Terence Kelly's home (Image: Getty Images)

Cleo Smith was locked in a bedroom at Terence Kelly’s home (Image: Getty Images)

A man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after kidnapping a four-year-old girl from a campsite in Western Australia.

Terence Kelly, 37, previously admitted to kidnapping Cleo Smith from her family’s tent in October 2021.

She was found alone 18 days later in a house in Carnavon, just a short drive from where she disappeared.

Police broke into the locked house after receiving a tip from concerned neighbors.

Cleo was later reunited with her family and her mother Ellie said “our family is whole again”.

Kelly pleaded guilty to kidnapping during a brief court appearance in Carnarvon last year.

This week, a court was told how he abducted Cleo from her family’s tent “in relative silence” on Oct. 16, 2021, between 2:40 a.m. and 4:40 a.m.

He then kept the young girl in his home in a room that was modified to be locked from the outside.


Cleo Smith’s rescue was described as a ‘miracle’ by Australian Police (Image: Getty Images)

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Cleo routinely begged for her mother, but Kelly simply turned up the radio to drown her out.

Kelly will serve more than 11 years behind bars before being paroled.

The BBC reports that he felt guilty about taking Cleo and had no intention of keeping her.

He suffers from a neurological impairment, the court heard, and was exposed to severe trauma as a child.

CARNARVON, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 5: Terence Darrell Kelly boards a plane after being taken into custody by members of the Special Operations Group at Carnarvon Airport on November 5, 2021 in Carnarvon, Australia. Kelly, 36, has been charged with various offenses in connection with the disappearance of Cleo Smith, 4, who was abducted from a Gascoyne area campsite on October 16 and found alive on November 3. He is being transported to Perth and will appear in court again in December. (Photo by Tamati Smith/Getty Images) - 10482027 - 10482285 - 11188321

Terence Kelly boards a plane on November 5, 2021 after being taken into custody (Image: Getty)

Terence Tez Kelz or Terry Kelly

The 37-year-old lives in a “fantasy world” with “fictitious children,” it said in the verdict

Kelly’s father was “violent and abusive,” while his mother “drank heavily and used cannabis.”

As a result, he is said to have created a “fantasy world” to protect himself from reality.

WAtoday reports that Kelly had told police he had a number of children.

Chief Justice Julie Wager told the court: “These family members are, I believe, fictitious.


Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon after the disappearance (Image: AAPIMAGE)

epa09562789 Police forensic scientists are seen at the home where missing girl Cleo Smith, 4, was rescued by Western Australian Police in the suburb of Brockman in Carnarvon, Australia November 4, 2021. Four-year-old Cleo Smith was found alive and well by West Australian Police more than two weeks after she disappeared from her family's tent at a remote West Australian campsite. EPA/RICHARD WAINWRIGHT OUT OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Officers at the home where Cleo Smith was being held in Carnarvon, Australia (Image: EPA)

“Nevertheless, to you, they are very real members of your family. You have opened Facebook pages for your imaginary children and communicated with them.

“You also had a keen interest in and owned many Bratz dolls, and this hobby fits in with your imaginative family life.”

Kell wanted to dress up Cleo and play with her because he believed he was a father, the court was told.

Chief Judge Wager added: “I also fully accept your deprivation background.

“You shouldn’t be punished for it. No child in Western Australia should have suffered the neurodevelopmental disabilities, trauma, grief and neglect that you suffered as a child and young person.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal people in Western Australia have suffered from the adverse effects of colonisation.

“I fully accept that you are one of them, and I accept that you turned to substance abuse because of the pain and trauma you have endured throughout your life.”

Last year, Cleo’s mum Ellie said her daughter woke up screaming for the first few days at home and needed all the lights in the house to fall asleep.

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When asked if Cleo remembered the horrifying experience, the mother said she remembered “why she was kidnapped.”

“She tells us that she was kidnapped because her little sister was ill,” she told 60 Minutes.

“And that’s why she had to be taken away from us so that we could help her little sister. She only knows one reason for what he told her.’

Cleo was “found with her hair cut and dyed” playing with toy cars in Kelly’s house, which was stuffed with Bratz dolls.

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Justin Scaccy

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