A man pleaded guilty to abducting 4-year-old Cleo Smith from her family’s campsite in Western Australia in October, according to published news reports.
On Monday, Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, admitted to abducting Smith, during a virtual court appearance at the maximum-security prison he is being held at in Carnarvon, Australia, According to the Associated Press,
Kelly faces up to 20 year imprisonment for a conviction for taking a child under 16 years old by force. According to the news outlet, Kelly’s next court appearance is set for March 20. at the District Court of Western Australia.
The disappearance of little Cleo made headlines around the world when she went missing on Oct. 16. After a massive 18-day search, Cleo was discovered in a locked room in Kelly’s house, located approximately 62 miles away from the campsite, Deputy Commissioner Col. Blanch said in a Video Statement, People reported.
Officials said Smith was found during a late-night raid in the coastal town of Carnarvon, after police followed up on a tip, according to a Previously reported Associated Press story.
After the daunting rescue, Chris Dawson, the Western Australia State Police commissioner, would not provide any details as to what Smith had gone through, but said she is “as well as you can expect,” the news outlet reported.
“It has been a nightmare. I won’t go into any more details, other than to say we’re so thankful she’s alive,” Dawson said.
The authorities said Cleo appeared to be “physically okay,” but was taken to the hospital to confirm she did not sustain any injuries, People reported.
One of the heart-stopping moments of Smith’s rescue was when one of the officers scooped up Cleo into his arms and asked, ‘What’s your name sweetheart?’ She replied, ‘My name is Cleo,” Col. Blanch said, Inside Edition previously reported.
The emotional rescue was seen all over the world. Smith’s mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather were overcome with tears of joy.
“We are humbled by all the love and support we have received, not just from our community but from the entire Western Australia region and around the country.” they said in a statement, according to a report.
Kelly, who was said to be obsessed with Bratz dolls, had posted on social media photographs of him with his Bratz dolls. “I love taking my dolls for a drive around and doing their hair and taking selfies in public,” Inside Edition previously reported.
Kelly has not entered a plea in connection with other criminal charges he faces, including the assault of a police officer, People reported. A sentencing date has not been announced on the abduction charge, the news outlet said.