Cleo Smith's kidnapper Terence Kelly jailed for 13 years

Cleo Smith.
Cleo Smith. Photo credit: Facebook

The man who kidnapped Cleo Smith in 2021 has been jailed for 13 years and six months. 

It was the missing child's case that captured the attention of the world. 

Four-year-old Cleo Smith went missing from her family's tent while they slept. She was last seen by her parents at 1:30am when she woke up asking for water. By 6am, she was gone. 

With few leads or suspects her mysterious disappearance triggered one of the largest searches in Western Australia's history.

But after 18 days Cleo was found alive on a mattress playing with dolls inside the Canavron home of 37-year-old Terence Kelly.  

ABC News Australia reports that Kelly told police he first tried to tie up Cleo with sticky tape, but it didn't work. He then tried tying her to a chair but said "she was a bit of a fighter". 

Judge Julie Wagner told the Perth District Court that Cleo pleaded with him to be taken home to her parents and began to cry. To drown out the noise Kelly would turn up the radio where the four-year-old could hear her name in the news and would tell Kelly "they're saying my name".  

It was 518 days ago that Cleo was found alive and Kelly was arrested with forcibly taking a child under 16.  

Per ABC's report, the judge explained that Kelly had been exposed to severe and complex trauma as a child and suffered a neurological impairment. He created an "idealised fantasy world" which protected him from the ‘depressing' real world. 

Kelly had 25 percent taken off his sentence for an early guilty plea. 

Cleo will be 16 years old when he is eligible for parole in 11 years.