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Cleo Smith: Man pleads guilty to kidnapping Australian girl

Image source, Wa police

An Australian man has pleaded guilty to abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith and holding her at his home for 18 days.

Cleo vanished from her family’s tent while on a camping trip in Western Australia last October.

Her disappearance gripped the country and sparked a massive search that ended in police finding the girl in a locked house in her hometown of Carnarvon.

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Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, pleaded guilty to a charge of child stealing in a court hearing on Monday.

His plea caught many by surprise ahead of what had been expected to be a lengthy legal process, Australian media reported.

Kelly was flown to a jail in Perth two days after police smashed their way into his house on 3 November and found Cleo inside.

Vision of the rescue released at the time showed the young girl identifying herself to officers and smiling.

Her family later released a statement saying they were “so thankful that our little girl is back within our arms”.

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