Terence Kelly sentenced over kidnapping Cleo Smith from campsite in WA – 7NEWS

Terence Kelly sentenced over kidnapping Cleo Smith from campsite in WA - 7NEWS

The man who kidnapped four-year-old Cleo Smith from her family’s WA campsite in late 2021 will spend at least 11 years and six months behind bars.

Terence Kelly, 37, pleaded guilty to forcibly taking a child under 16 in Perth District Court last year.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Cleo Smith found 18 days after being kidnapped.

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On Wednesday, Judge Julie Wager sentenced Kelly to 13 years and six months in prison, with a non-parole period of 11 years and six months.

Wagner described the fear, distress and trauma caused to Cleo and her parents as “immeasurable”.

“Eighteen days without contact or explanation, and with hours totally on her own and no access to the outside world, would have been very traumatic,” she said on Wednesday.

“In the world of a four-year-old, one day is a very long time. In the world of a four-year-old, 18 days is a very, very long time indeed.”

Kelly sat silently in the dock wearing a green shirt as his sentence was handed down.

Cleo Smith was found after 18 days. Credit: WA Police

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon were in the public gallery.

The court heard the Carnarvon local — who was high on methamphetamine at the time — took Cleo from a tent at the remote Blowholes campsite on October 16, 2021, without waking her or her parents.

Cleo had woken up about 1.30am that morning and asked her mum Ellie for a drink of water.

When Ellie woke up later that morning, about 6am, the flap to the tent was open and Cleo and her sleeping bag were missing.

Over the next 18 days, Cleo was at times locked in a bedroom alone for hours as Kelly left the house.

“She pleaded to go to her parents. She asked mainly for her mum,” Judge Wagner said.

To cover up any noises Cleo made, Kelly used a loud radio, the court heard.

Terence Kelly learnt his fate on Wednesday. Credit: 7NEWS

“When the young victim heard her name on the radio, she said ‘they’re saying my name’,” Judge Wagner said.

Cleo’s disappearance sparked a major police investigation, with the WA government announcing a $1 million reward for information.

Early on the morning of November 3, the investigation led detectives to a property 75km south of the campsite in the town of Carnarvon, where they found Cleo alive — 18 days after she went missing.

The four-year-old was found alone in a room inside the locked house, just minutes away from her own family’s home.

She was found physically unharmed and playing with toys.

Kelly was arrested on a nearby street about the same time.

A general view of the Carnarvon house. Credit: Richard Wainwright/AAP
Cleo and her mum Ellie after she was found. Credit: Richard Wainwright/AAP

In an interview, Kelly told police he “roughed her up a bit a few times” and tried to tie her up to a chair but “she was a bit of a fighter”.

“I wasn’t planning to keep her forever,” he told police, the court heard.

Judge Wagner found Kelly’s actions were “at the highest level of seriousness”.

“This isn’t a case of luring a child away, that would be serious enough, but the taking of a little four-year-old girl from the zipped-up family tent in the middle of the night when her parents assumed she was safe is even more concerning,” she said.

“Her parents woke to find her missing, not knowing if she was alive or dead for the next 18 days. They didn’t know what had happened to her, or whether she’d ever be returned. This shattered her family, and has been damaging and traumatising for the child.”

The court heard Kelly had a “significant interest” in dolls and had a created a fictitious family.

“You’d opened Facebook pages for your fantasy children and communicated with them,” Judge Wagner said.

Judge Wagner accepted that Kelly suffers from complex developmental and personality dysfunction stemming from chronic and complex trauma.

Kelly will be eligible for parole after serving 11 years and six months.

– With AAP

Source: 7news.com.au

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