Kidnapper admits imprisoning ‘Australia’s Madeleine McCann’ for 18 days

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A man has admitted to kidnapping a four-year-old from a campsite and imprisoning her for 18 days.

Cleo Smith, who has been dubbed "Australia's Madeleine McCann" after being abducted from an Australian outback campsite, was found by police in a house almost three weeks after she went missing.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, has pleaded guilty to a single charge of taking Cleo from her family's tent at Blowholes campsite in Western Australia last October.

Police reportedly wept when they found her as she told them "my name is Cleo", when they asked her identity after a gruelling search that captivated the world.

Kelly faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison after admitting to the abduction in a court appearance in Carnarvon in a video link from a Perth prison.

He has not entered a plea to other criminal charges he faces, which includes assaulting an officer just a day after his arrest.

The man will next appear in court on March 20 when he is likely to be sentenced.

Young Cleo was found alive and well in early November, 18 days after she went missing from the campsite.

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Her search sparked international interest as a large-scale operation unfolded to locate her.

The four-year-old had allegedly woken up at 1.30am and asked for water but when her parents woke up again at 6am the little girl had disappeared.

Police announced a $1million (£737,000) reward for the safe return of Cleo five days after she went missing.

Cleo was rescued just minutes away from her family home in a locked property on Tonkin Street in the nearby town of Carnarvon.

The little girl was found playing with toys alone in a room and physically unharmed.

Around the same time, Kelly was arrested on a nearby street.

According to the police, the kidnapper has no connection to Cleo's family and is alleged to have acted alone.

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Armed riot squad guards accompanied Kelly after he was arrested and taken from Carnarvon to Perth.

Extra security had been put in place after Kelly was hospitalised twice with self-inflicted injuries while in custody.

At the same time as his guilty please was revealed, just weeks after the four-year-old's abduction, mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon reportedly signed a $2million (£1.4m) deal with a national TV channel.

The lucrative deal, which is said to be the biggest in Australian TV history, is set to include a tell-all interview with 60 Minutes.

  • Madeleine Mccann
  • Christmas
  • Family
  • Crime

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