Mon, 24 Jan, 2022

Terence Kelly confesses to abducting Cleo Smith

Terence Kelly confesses to abducting Cleo Smith

Image: Getty 

Cleo Smith’s abductor Terence Kelly has confessed to kidnapping the four-year-old from her family tent and keeping her captive for 18 days.

Kelly, 36, was arrested after detectives raided his Carnarvon house at 12.46 am on November 3rd and found the little girl alone inside a bedroom playing with toys.

The next day Terence was charged with child abduction and flown to Perth where he remains in custody at Casuarina Prison. During an appearance in Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court on Monday, Kelly pleaded guilty to child abduction via video link.

Kelly appeared solemn and spent much of the hearing looking down. He spoke only one word, ‘guilty’, when asked by Magistrate Ben White what his plea to the kidnapping charge was.

He admitted taking Cleo from her family’s tent on October the 16th at Quobba Blowholes campsite as her parents slept metres away.

Following one of the largest missing persons investigations in Australian history, Cleo was rescued 18 days later after four detectives stormed Kelly’s home in a midnight raid.

In the days after Cleo’s rescue, WA Police acting Commissioner Col Blanch said mobile phone data and CCTV footage of a car entering Carnarvon the night Cleo vanished led police to raid Kelly’s house.

The details of why Kelly took Cleo, or how police solved the case, are yet to be revealed in court.

Cleo’s family have declined to speak to media since her safe return, only issuing a statement thanking the community for its support and requesting privacy.

The Nine Network, which publishes this masthead, will pay almost $2 million for an interview with the family in what is believed to be one of the largest deals in Australian television history.

Outside court, before Kelly’s admission, a former neighbour of Kelly’s, Esther Mingo, told media she hoped Kelly would “open his mouth up” and tell the truth.

She also voiced repeated frustration that none of his family members were attending his court hearings.

“He’s got stacks of family ... where are his mother and father, why don’t they come here?” she said.

After the hearing, Ms Mingo and two other women refused to speak to the media. His lawyer, Kate Turtley-Chappel, also declined to comment.

Kelly will appear in Perth District Court on March 25th for a date to be set for his sentencing.