Who abducted Cleo Smith? Terence Kelly charged by Australian police
The four-year-old had been missing for 18 days when she was found in a Carnarvon house and a man has been charged with "forcibly taking a child under 16".
On Thursday, West Australian Police charged Terence Darrell Kelly in relation to the disappearance of Cleo Smith, the four-year-old who was discovered alive and well 18 days after allegedly being abducted.
In a statement, WA Police confirmed that the 36-year-old man had been charged with “one count of forcibly taking a child under 16,” among other offences. Kelly appeared before a magistrate in Carnarvon on Thursday afternoon, but did not apply for bail.
The case is expected to be heard in early December. Kelly has not yet been required to enter a plea.
Kelly hospitalised after incident in custody
The Carnarvon local was arrested by police on Wednesday and was immediately detained in custody in relation to the alleged kidnapping. However the suspect was subsequently taken to hospital after self-harming while in custody, according to WA Police.
After appearing in court Kelly returned to a Carnarvon police station and Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told Perth radio station 6PR that the suspect's injuries were "not life threatening."
Police have not yet confirmed the exact charges against Kelly, but they have stated that it is currently their belief that he acted “spontaneously” and had not acted with any accomplices.
Cleo Smith found in locked house near campsite
The disappearance of Cleo Smith had gripped Australia in the weeks since she went missing on 16 October, while on a camping trip with her parents. Cleo’s family had just embarked on their holiday at the Quobba Blowholes campsite when she went missing during the night.
A massive search effort was initiated with a task force of more than 100 officers scrambled to scour a vast stretch of Western Australia, spanning close to 400 miles. Wilde outlined the scale of the search, saying officers had sorted through "hundreds of thousands" of pieces of evidence in search of a lead.
He said: "We had to sift through a lot of information. The statements of the 100 people who were at the campsite, CCTV footage, data from phones..."
After being missing for 18 days, new information led police to Kelly’s home in Carnarvon, roughly 30 miles from the campsite where Cleo’s family had been staying. Kelly was not in the house when police arrived, but officers found the missing four-year-old in the locked house, playing with toys.
Local media are reporting that Kelly was identified and arrested hours before the police attended his property in search of Cleo. The investigation with continue in the coming days and weeks as police look to piece together exactly what happened.