Cleo Smith’s mother has broken her silence after her daughter’s kidnapper was jailed, saying: “The anger always will be there.”
Terrence Kelly was jailed for 13½ years on Wednesday for abducting the then four-year-old from her family’s tent at the Blowholes Campground in the middle of the night in October 2021.
It was the moment Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon had been waiting for — and the final chapter in a harrowing ordeal.
Speaking for the first time since Kelly, 37, was sentenced, Ms Smith said she will always feel anger towards Kelly but she is also relieved now she knows just how long he will remain locked up for.
“I think the anger always will be there,” she says in an interview with 60 Minutes. “But we do also feel a contentment he is behind bars, he has been sentenced.
“And we do have a number to hold with us of how long he is away.
“But there is always going to be anger, always — how could there not be?”
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In their victim impact statements, Cleo’s parents revealed Kelly’s callous actions “ripped their lives apart” and caused them immeasurable pain.
They wrote about their desperation, shock and fear after Cleo went missing, and how that fear over that time was “immeasurable”.
They also revealed they were too fearful to sleep during the first few days of her disappearance, watching the same space at the campsite each day in the hope Cleo would be found.
When rain forced the search to be called off a brief period, they wrote it devastated them because they feared their daughter would be placed at further risk.
Now that Kelly has been jailed, Cleo’s parents have asked for privacy to allow their daughter “to do whatever it takes to be able to lead her best life in the future”.
Kelly will have to serve at least 11½ years of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole.