Cleo Smith: Terence Kelly pleads guilty to kidnapping four-year-old from Carnarvon campsite
Terence Kelly has admitted he was the man who snatched little Cleo Smith from her isolated tent and then held her captive for 18 days.
In a stunning development before magistrate Ben White in Carnarvon on Monday morning, Kelly’s lawyer revealed that the 36-year-old was ready to plea to the single charge of child stealing levelled against him.
And when that charge was put to him, the doll-obsessed loner uttered just one word: “Guilty”
Other charges faced by Kelly have been adjourned.
The admission brought a rapid conclusion to what had been expected to be a prolonged legal process for Kelly, who has been in custody since his dramatic arrest on November 3 — an arrest happening while other detectives rescued the four-year-old from Kelly’s Carnarvon home.
That rescue — accompanied by heart-wrenching body-worn footage of the moment the little girl confirmed her own name — has already become one of the finest moments in WA policing history.
And as well as accepting the accolades, the time since that rescue has seen a team of detectives painstakingly compiling the legal case against Kelly — with a more comprehensive statement of alleged facts provided to him just before Christmas.
His lawyer Kate Turtley-Chappel would have considered those, and talked to Kelly about them, before he entered his plea on Monday.
She said it was important that Kelly plead guilty to the kidnapping charge as soon as possible.
However the wider public will have to wait a little longer for them to be made public, with just the bare charge against Kelly read to him via video link.
That charge was that on October 16 in Carnarvon, Terence Darrell Kelly forcibly took Cleo Grace Smith from her parents.
Kelly’s case will now be transferred to the District Court, in Perth, where a sentence mention hearing will be held – to determine when Kelly will actually learn his fate.
On that date, the full scale of Kelly’s crimes will be revealed — including his actions in the days leading up to the kidnap, his movements on the night, and how long he was in the Blowholes campsite.
What he did while he held Cleo in his Tonkin Street home, and the impact on Cleo over the 18 days she was held in Kelly’s home – as well as the effects on her immediate family — will also be considered.
That Tonkin Crescent home was set to become the centre of community focus again today, with detectives wary it may be the target of local anger at Kelly’s brazen crime which rocked the town, and shocked the world.
The news that Kelly will accept responsibility for snatching the little girl from the remote Blowholes campsite in the dead of night will also be heard around the globe.
A new charge of assaulting a police officer, stemming from Kelly’s tense time in the cells following his arrest, was adjourned.
Until then, Kelly will remain locked up in one of Casuarina Prison’s most secure cells, where he has now gone from one of WA’s most notorious accused to one of the state’s most notorious criminals.
The senior detectives who led the hunt for Cleo — led by Commander Rod Wilde and Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine — were not in the Carnarvon court for the plea.
But The West Australian understands they were very confident it was coming, and were in contact with the Smith family last week.
It is also understood that Cleo and her parents Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon are also not in Carnarvon, having travelled to Perth to begin filming an interview as part of their multi-million dollar media deal.
A family friend of Kelly, Esther Mingo, questioned why the parents of Cleo were not there — and also claimed that the little boy she had known was protecting someone else involved. He needs to open his mouth,” Ms Mingo said.
“Terence has a lot of family in Carnarvon but it is only me who is here.”
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