The man who abducted Cleo Smith from a remote campsite 18 months ago has been sentenced to 13 years and six months’ imprisonment as new chilling details emerged.
Terence Darrell Kelly, 37, pleaded guilty last year to one count of forcibly taking a child under 16. He abducted the four-year-old girl and held her captive for 18 days.
Kelly snatched Cleo from a tent on October 16, 2021, as she slept with her mother and stepfather at the Blowholes campsite, near Carnarvon, about 960km north of Perth.
‘There are no truly comparable cases to assist in determining the length of a sentence,’ Chief Judge Julie Wager said on sentence.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon were seen arriving at the District Court of WA in Perth earlier on Wednesday.
It was the first time the pair have been seen since they were interviewed by 60 Minutes last year. The couple were reportedly paid $2million for the world exclusive television interview.
Kelly, who sat silently in the dock wearing a green shirt, will be eligible for parole after serving 11 years and six months.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon arrive at the District Court of WA in Perth on Wednesday for the sentencing for the man who abducted the little girl in October 2021
Terence Darrell Kelly (pictured centre) was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years on Wednesday
His sentence will be backdated to his arrest in November 2021 and had be looking at up to 20 years behind bars.
He will be eligible for parole in May 2032.
Judge Wager 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.
‘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.’
The court heard Kelly had a ‘significant interest’ in dolls and Facebook pages with ‘fantasy children’.
Cleo was reported missing on October 16, 2021, sparking one of the biggest missing persons investigations in Australia’s history.
She had been staying with her family at the remote Blowholes campsite, about 960km north of Perth.
Kelly arrived at the campsite looking for items to steal before coming across the Smith family’s two-room tent, where Cleo and her younger sister were sleeping in a separate compartment.
Kelly made the opportunistic decision to snatch Cleo, lifting her up along with her sleeping bag and carrying her to his car in ‘relative silence’ and going unnoticed by her sleeping parents.
Mother Ellie Smith (pictured with Cleo and partner Jake Gliddon) awoke in the early morning to find four-year-old Cleo Smith missing from the family tent, sparking a major police investigation
Western Australian detectives were also at District Court of WA in Perth for Terrence Kelly’s sentencing
He kept Cleo at his Carnarvon home for the entirety of her captivity, locking her in a bedroom for much of that period after modifying the door and leaving her home alone for long periods of time while he went shopping and visited relatives.
Kelly told police he had felt bad for detaining Cleo but also admitted becoming angry with her, saying he had ‘roughed her up a few times’.
‘I wasn’t planning to keep her forever, you know. I was getting guilty every day and it was just more weight on my shoulders,’ Kelly said during a police interview, according to Judge Wager.
The judge said Cleo had pleaded to be returned to her parents and Kelly, who was aware of the desperate search for Cleo, had used a loud radio to drown out her pleas.
‘When the young victim heard her name on the radio, she said ‘they’re saying my name’,’ Judge Wager said.
Kelly later told police he had been injecting methamphetamine at the time, including shortly before he arrived at the Blowholes campsite.
Cleo Smith (pictured) was held captive for 18 days after she was abducted from her family’s campsite in October 2021
Terrence Kelly (pictured) will be eligible for parole in May 2032. He has already almost 18 months behind bars
Cleo’s parents had woken at the campsite, ‘not knowing if she was alive or dead for the next 18 days’.
‘They didn’t know what happened to her or if she would ever return,’ Judge Wager said.
‘(They) were sad, scared and confused. They described being too fearful to sleep … of feeling completely empty and broken.
‘They stayed at the place that caused them so much pain, hoping their little girl would be located.’
Judge Wager noted Kelly’s deprived childhood and complex personality and developmental dysfunction.
She accepted Kelly would have been ‘far less likely’ to commit the crime if he had not been disinhibited by illicit drug use.
Cleo was reported missing on October 16, 2021. She had been staying with her family at the remote Blowholes campsite (pictured), about 960km north of Perth