Terence Darrell Kelly, a man who lived just 7 minutes away from Cleo Smith, has been charged with kidnapping her.
The 36-year-old is accused of abducting Cleo Smith from her family tent. Four-year-old Smith was held captive for 18 days in his house.
Kelly was arrested by Police and appeared before Carnarvon Magistrates Court where he was refused bail.
Terence Darrell Kelly Arrested for Kidnapping
Detectives raided Terence Kelly's Tonkin Crescent home at 12.46am on Wednesday, 3 November 2021. They found Cleo Smith alone inside a bedroom. Kelly was arrested with police suspecting he had kidnapped the 4-year-old.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine said she was found in physically good health in a bedroom inside Mr Kelly's house.
"The lights were on and she was playing with toys, I think that's about all I want to say. This is still a matter that needs to go before the courts. There's certain aspects about what we saw that is going to be evidence," he said.
Detectives refused to say whether dolls were found inside the house. The head of Taskforce Rodia, Superintendent Rod Wilde, told media outlets that he "didn't want to go into that".
Following his arrest, video has emerged of Mr Kelly filming himself inside a room filled with dozens of dolls, some still in their packaging.
He had also uploaded photos to Facebook in April 2020 which involved him taking a doll for a car drive, captioning the post, "I love taking my dolls for drive arounds and doing their hair and taking selfies in public".
In another post dated July 2020, Mr Kelly is pictured wearing a Bratz doll shirt and holding a doll in each hand, commenting, "Nothing beats chilling at home with my Bratz dolls".
Journalists approached a Carnarvon Toyworld worker who explained that the store had sold several dolls to Terence Kelly over the years which they would gift wrap.
She did not know when the last time was he had visited the store but was checking CCTV footage to provide to police.
Court Appearance for Kidnapping Charges
Through his appearance at Carnarvon Magistrates Court, Mr Kelly asked journalists in the public gallery what they were staring at, and told them when he got out, he would come for them.
He was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again on 6 December 2021. No bail application was made.
Neighbours Speak Out
Neighbours described Mr Kelly as a loner who lived in his public housing property by himself. In recent days, residents said he had been coming and going from the house with groceries.
"He's been acting a bit strange lately, he would get in his car drive that fast," one neighbour said.
"He doesn't have his dog out the front, he had his dog out the back, but for all this week he had his dog out the front and he's been acting like weird."
Shanika Dickerson, who was staying two homes down, said she was relieved Cleo had been found.
"It's very scary, this is where we live and young kids live here," she said.
Another neighbour spoke of borrowing a lawnmower on Monday from Mr Kelly and how he was acting 'normal'.
"He'd say hello and ask for a smoke," she said.
"I didn't think he would be like that but nobody thought that."
How Cleo Smith Was Found
Acting Commissioner of Police, Col Blanch explained that mobile phone data and CCTV footage of a car entering Carnarvon the night Cleo Smith disappeared led police to execute a search warrant on Mr Kelly's house.
There were also tip offs in the Cleo Smith case from two witnesses. They claimed that a vehicle turned south off the road that leads to the remote Quobba blowholes campsite where Cleo was snatched around 3am on 16 October 2021.
Blanch said, "The information acted on from [Tuesday] night onwards, starts out really small and quickly snowballs. There were car movements, there were phone movements . the jigsaw fit the puzzle.
"But it took really good intelligence analysts and detectives and specialists to look at all that information, put it together and go, 'You know what, that doesn't seem right to me, I've been doing this a long time, and we're going to act on it'. And that's how we get results."
Crime scene investigators have spent the past two days examining Mr Kelly's property for evidence. It has been revealed that a grey car was parked in the carport that had no number plate.
In total, over 140 police officers were assigned to the Cleo Smith case. Of these, 63 worked on it full time out of Carnarvon.
Kidnapping or Take/Detain Person for Advantage
The offence of kidnapping is defined as taking or carrying away another person by force or fraud without the consent of that person and without a lawful excuse pursuant to Section 86 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It is also known as take or detain person for advantage.
You can beat a kidnapping charge in two ways. Firstly, Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- That you take or detain another person;
- You knew that person was not consenting to that detention; and
- you had the intention of obtaining an advantage by that detention; or
- you intended to hold that person to ransom; or
- You intended to commit a serious indictable offence (ie. an offence carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment or more)
"Detain" is defined as a person causing the person to remain where he or she is.
"Taking" is defined as the Accused causing the person to accompany the Accused to another location.
You can beat an aggravated kidnapping charge in two ways. Firstly, Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt:
- The elements to a kidnapping simpliciter charge;
- You were in the company of another person; OR
- The complainant suffered assault occasioning actual bodily harm either at the same time, immediately prior to, or after the offence.
Take or detain for advantage charges are extremely serious. That is why it is important to obtain advice from experienced kidnapping lawyers who have successfully defended hundreds of these charges. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email email@example.com.
We can arrange a conference for you with a criminal lawyer who is a Law Society Accredited Specialist in kidnapping offences.
The following defences to kidnapping charges apply:
- Duress: If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue
- Necessity: If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of-Necessity.
- Self-defence: If you were defending yourself or another OR yours or another's property you may have a Defence of Self-Defence
- You are the parent of the complainant if they are a child (only if not in contravention of a order of a Court regarding the child); Or
- You are acting with the consent of the victim's parents if the parent is a child.
There is a maximum penalty of up to 14-years imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping a person in NSW.
The maximum penalty for aggravated kidnapping up to 20-years imprisonment for the offence of under section 86(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Given the seriousness of the offences, it can be very difficult to be granted bail. As such, experienced bail application lawyers will need to be retained.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics explains that the kidnapping rate in Australia is 2.3 victims per 100,000 persons. Surprisingly, the number of kidnapping victims was largest for children between the ages of 10 and 14 years.
Females accounted for a slightly larger proportion of all kidnapping and abduction victims, and private dwellings are the most common location where these offences occur.
51% of all kidnapping and abduction in investigations are finalised by police within 30 days.
Over the last 5 years, 65.2% of people were sentenced to full-time imprisonment for kidnapping. 21.7% of persons were sentenced to an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). 8.7% of people received a Community Corrections Order (CCO).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.