Man admits abducting Cleo Smith

A man has admitted abducting Cleo Smith from a WA campsite.
A man has admitted abducting Cleo Smith from a WA campsite.

Terrence Darrell Kelly remained impassive as he pleaded guilty to abducting Cleo Smith from her family's West Australian campsite, sparking a widespread search and attracting global attention.

Appearing by videolink in Carnarvon Magistrates Court, the only time he spoke was to say "yeah, guilty" when asked to confirm his lawyer's statement that he was willing to enter the plea to the charge on Monday.

Otherwise Kelly, 36, did not move, fidget or react to the court as the matter of forcibly taking a child under 16 was adjourned to Perth District Court on March 20.

Kelly is also facing other criminal charges, including assaulting a public officer. No pleas were entered to those matters on Monday and they have been adjourned to a later date in the Carnarvon court.

Four-year-old Cleo was taken from a tent at the remote Blowholes campsite last year. She was found alive and well in early November, 18 days after she went missing from the campsite.

She was rescued from a property just minutes from her family home in the nearby town of Carnarvon, almost 1000km north of Perth.

Police forced entry to the home and found the little girl alone in a room, physically unharmed and playing with toys.

Kelly was arrested on a nearby street around the same time. He is alleged to have acted alone.

Police have said he has no connection to Cleo's family.

Kelly was shackled and accompanied by armed riot squad guards on a charter flight from Carnarvon to Perth after his first court appearance.

The extra security was put in place after Kelly was twice hospitalised with self-inflicted injuries while in custody.

Kelly, who is in Perth's maximum-security Casuarina Prison, looked healthy during Monday's hearing.

The courtroom was as full as possible, with about 30 people occupying every second seat to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Among them was a woman named Ester who sat quietly in court along with two other local community members, after she told media outside court earlier that Kelly should have more support from his family.

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Australian Associated Press