Cleo Smith’s abductor lodges appeal against his prison sentence

May 11, 2023
Lawyers have argued that Judge Wager overlooked the impact of Kelly's childhood trauma during sentencing. Source: Getty Images.

The man who abducted Cleo Smith from her family’s tent at a campsite in Western Australia has filed an appeal challenging his conviction.

On Wednesday, April 5, Terence Darrell Kelly was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to ‘forcibly taking a child aged under 16’.

However, lawyers representing Kelly have now submitted legal documents to the Court of Appeals in WA, asserting that District Court Judge Julie Wager was incorrect in her assessment that Kelly’s use of methamphetamine played a substantial part in the crime.

They further contend that Wager overlooked the impact of Kelly’s childhood trauma in her sentencing.

In response to Kelly’s appeal, the state’s Department of Public Prosecutions has announced that they have no intention of appealing Kelly’s sentence claiming “the view that appealing the length of sentence imposed would not be successful as the sentence is not manifestly inadequate.”

“Consequently, the State will not be lodging an appeal against sentence,” they said.

While delivering her verdict earlier this year, Wager outlined the “immeasurable” fear Cleo’s parents and the toddler must have felt during their 18-day ordeal.

“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 told the court.

“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.”

Cleo disappeared from the tent she was sleeping in with her parents at the Blowholes campsite in Macleod, north of Carnarvon, on October 16, 2021, police found the four-year-old alive in a locked house in Carnarvon at approximately 1am, November 3, 2021, 18 days after she went missing.

At the time, Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed in a statement that Cleo was found “alive and well” following her dramatic rescue.

“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” he said.

“This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for.”

At the time Blanch thanked Western Australian Police for their “incredible police work” during the search.

“I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the West Australian community and all of the volunteers,” he said.

“And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in the Western Australian Police Force.”

Kelly will be eligible for parole after he has served 11 years and six months of his prison sentence.

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