Cleo Smith’s mum has spoken out against the man who abducted her daughter following his sentencing, revealing “the anger always will be there”.
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’ during a hearing in the Carnarvon Magistrates Court on January 24, 2022.
While delivering the verdict Judge Julie 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.”
Court Outcome –Commissioner’s Comment
Commissioner Col Blanch makes comment following today’s court outcome. pic.twitter.com/1s5x0uBbOv
— WA Police Force (@WA_Police) April 5, 2023
Following Kelly’s sentencing, Cleo’s mum, Ellie Smith, told 60 Minutes that although there is a great deal of anger still felt towards her daughter’s abductor there is also a sense of “contentment” that he is now behind bars.
“I think the anger always will be there,” she said.
“But we do also feel a contentment he is behind bars, he has been sentenced.
“And we do have a number to hold with us of how long he is away.
“But there is always going to be anger, always — how could there not be?”
While reading her victim impact statement to the court, Ellie detailed how Kelly’s actions had “ripped their lives apart” while speaking of the fear and desperation she felt when Cleo disappeared.
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.