Cleo Smith’s kidnapper Terence Kelly ADMITS abducting four-year-old from her mum and step-dad’s campsite
Terence Darrell Kelly has pleaded guilty to abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith – bringing the child snatching case against him to a swift conclusion.
Kelly, 36, entered a guilty plea to a single charge of taking Cleo from her family’s tent at the remote Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon, Western Australia last October.
He faced a magistrate via videolink from custody on Monday with an additional charge of assaulting a public officer the day after his arrest.
The case will now be adjourned to the Perth District Court on March 20, where he will eventually be sentenced but ultimately avoid a criminal trial.
Kelly is yet to enter a plea to other charges.
Terence Darrell Kelly has pleaded guilty to abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith (op die foto) in a shock development
Kelly, 36, entered a guilty plea to a single charge of taking Cleo (pictured with her mother Ellie Smith) from her family’s tent at the remote Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon last year
Kelly today appeared virtually before magistrate Ben White in Carnarvon, simply uttering ‘guilty’ when his lawyer said her client was ready to plea to the single charge.
The admission means what was expected to be a drawn-out legal process for Kelly will be considerably curtailed – despite months of preparation by detectives.
The 36-year-old was provided with a statement of alleged facts just before Christmas which is understood to have influenced his plea.
His lawyer Kate Turtley-Chappel said it was important her client plead guilty to the single kidnapping charge as soon as possible.
A sentence mention hearing will be held to determine when Kelly will be sentenced, with details of his activities in relation to the crime to be heard on this date.
Cleo was found alive and well in early November, 18 days after she went missing from the campsite and sparked over two weeks of international interest.
She had woken about 1.30am and asked for water but when her parents got up at 6am the little girl was gone with a land, air and sea search failing to find any trace.
Five days after the four-year-old went missing police announced they believed Cleo had been abducted and offered a $1million reward.
Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, who allegedly kept Cleo in a Carnarvon home for 18 dae, was charged in November with forcibly taking a child under the age of 16 – he will appear in court later this month
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon appeal for information during her disappearance. Cleo was found alive and well in early November, 18 days after she went missing from the campsite
The impact of the 18-day stint in Kelly’s home on not only Cleo but her immediate family will be considered during his sentencing.
He will remain in custody inside a secure cell at Casuarina Prison in Perth and will return on Monday as one of the jail’s most high-profile inmates.
Cleo was rescued from a locked property just minutes from her family home on Tonkin Street in the nearby town of Carnarvon, almost 1000km north of Perth.
Op November 3, police forced entry to the home and found the little girl alone in a room, physically unharmed and playing with toys.
Kelly was arrested on a nearby street around the same time. He is alleged to have acted alone with police stating he had no connection to Cleo’s family.
He was shackled and accompanied by armed riot squad guards on a charter flight from Carnarvon to Perth after his first court appearance.
Cleo (pictured with her mother Ellie Smith) was rescued from a property just minutes from her family home on Tonkin Street in the nearby town of Carnarvon, almost 1000km north of Perth
The extra security was put in place after Kelly was twice hospitalised with self-inflicted injuries while in custody.
His guilty plea comes as its revealed Cleo’s parents reportedly signed a $2million deal with Channel Nine just weeks after the little girl’s abduction.
Her mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon have agreed to the lucrative deal, which is believed to be an Australian television record.
Reportedly organised by high profile talent agent Max Markson, the deal is expected to include a tell-all interview with 60 Minutes and Nine-owned publication stories.
There is also speculation of a six-part special for its streaming service, Stan and that young Cleo herself may feature in the interviews, Die Australiër berig.
Kelly’s guilty plea comes as its revealed Cleo’s parents reportedly signed a $2million deal with Channel Nine just weeks after the little girl’s abduction
Nine beat Channel Seven’s Spotlight program to secure the deal, despite Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes’ personal interest’ in the story.
‘Nine was scared at the end of the year after they lost their No 1 position – this seems a desperate attempt to regain the mantle … and it won’t work,’ an inside source told the publication.
Some staff at the network are reportedly horrified by the deal.
‘What are the possible consequences of asking this young girl to talk about what happened to her, when we don’t know what she went through?’ one journalist asked.
‘And what are the optics of it as far as the viewing public is concerned?’
The report follows revelations to Daily Mail Australia that Cleo’s parents were considering changing her name to stop unwanted attention.
The couple have been seeking advice from other parents whose children have been unwittingly thrust into the spotlight after suffering comparable ordeals.
Police forced entry to the home and found Cleo alone in a well lit room, physically unharmed and playing with toys
Forensics visit the crime scene where Cleo was kept for 18-days after being forcibly removed from her family’s tent at the Blowholes campsite
They are asking how young victims of high-profile crimes recovered psychologically, including whether they underwent professional counselling and if their parents considered that process worthwhile.
They are concerned about how their daughter will cope with years of such intense attention, having already been the focus of worldwide publicity in early childhood.
‘They’re worried about the repercussions of the media and so forth down the track,’ a source told Daily Mail Australia.
Ms Smith has even raised with friends the possibility of changing Cleo’s first and last names in an effort to protect her daughter’s identity as she grows into adulthood.
‘They’re worried about people making the connection later on down the line,’ het die bron gesê.
Daily Mail Australia understands Western Australian police have encouraged Ms Smith to talk about Cleo’s future with the parents of other children who have experienced traumatic events.
‘As with all matters such as these, WA Police Force provides ongoing support to families,’ het 'n woordvoerder gesê.
Ms Smith has even raised with friends the possibility of changing Cleo’s first and last names in an effort to protect her daughter’s identity as she grows into adulthood
Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro told Daily Mail Australia he believed it could be beneficial for Cleo’s parents to talk to other families.
‘I think it’s a great thing as long as people are willing to speak with them,’ hy het gesê. ‘It’s like any sort of therapy.
‘Those who’ve been through trauma are often best-placed to speak to others about their experiences and they seem to identify more with it that way.
‘They don’t have people coming in just from a clinical, academic perspective. They’re coming from real-life experiences and it seems to work for people.
‘I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing it, eerlik gesê, if it’s assisting people.’