Australia

Cleo Smith’s kidnapper back in court

The man who abducted four-year-old Cleo Smith from a Western Australian campsite last year has denied assaulting police while in custody for the kidnapping.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, appeared in Carnarvon Magistrates Court via video link on Friday, where he pleaded not guilty to assaulting police in the Carnarvon lockup a day after officers stormed his home and found Cleo inside a bedroom.

Kelly has already admitted to taking Cleo from her family’s campsite at the remote Quobba Blowholes campground on October 16 and holding her captive for 18 days.

Camera IconFour-year-old Cleo Smith recovering in a hospital in Perth after she was abducted from her family’s tent in Western Australia. Photo by AFP / WA Police Credit: The Weekend Australian Magazine

He was arrested over the incident on November 3 – the day Cleo was recovered safe and well – after being stopped in his car near his home.

Police said Kelly self-harmed twice while in custody, requiring hospital treatment, and his alleged police assault is said to have occurred in the Carnarvon lockup on November 4.

He was flown to a Perth prison the next day, where he remains.

Kelly on January 10 pleaded guilty to forcibly taking a child aged under 16 and faces a lengthy prison sentence.

A Western Australian court officer confirmed on Friday that Kelly had pleaded not guilty to the police assault and advised the matter will next be heard on May 23.

Detectives barged into Mr Kelly’s house just before 1am on November 3 and found Cleo in a room, playing with a toy.

In a clip released by police, the young girl told officers: “M-my name is Cleo.”

Officers spent days at Mr Kelly’s house, collecting items including a Bratz doll. Some items were also taken to Perth for further testing.

Terence Kelly
Camera IconTerence Kelly appears at Carnarvon Court via video link on charges of kidnapping Cleo Smith Credit: Don Lindsay/The West Australian Credit: Supplied

Cleo’s disappearance made headlines around the world, with a special task force established and a $1m reward was on offer to help solve the mystery.

In a statement shortly after Cleo was found, her parents said: “We are so thankful that our little girl is back within our arms and our family is whole again.”

Additional reporting by Angie Raphael


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