Lawyers for the man who kidnapped four-year-old Cleo Smith claim his 13-and-a-half-year prison sentence is “manifestly excessive” and that the judge failed to adequately take into account his “childhood trauma,” a court has heard. . he listened.
Terence Kelly pulled Cleo out of a tent in the middle of the night while she slept alongside her parents and little sister on a camping trip near Carnarvon, in Western Australia’s remote northwest, in October 2021.
Kelly, who collected Bratz children’s dolls, held the girl captive for 18 days while a massive land and sea search in the Washington hinterland made headlines around the world.
Detectives eventually tracked her down to Kelly’s home in Carnarvon, not far from the girl’s home, where she uttered the famous words: “My name is Cleo.”
Terence Kelly snatched little Cleo Smith (pictured) from a tent in the middle of the night while she slept alongside her parents and little sister on a camping trip near Carnarvon, in Western Australia’s remote northwest, in October of 2021.
Terence Kelly (pictured) is appealing his sentence, with his lawyers claiming it was “manifestly excessive”.
Kelly pleaded guilty to one count of forcibly abducting a child under 16 and was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison in April last year.
But his lawyers appealed, saying the sentence was too harsh.
Kelly’s attorney, Julie Condon KC, argued before the Washington Court of Appeals on Wednesday that her client’s sentence was “manifestly excessive” and that the sentencing judge had made a series of errors.
One of them related to the sentencing judge’s alleged “fixation” on Kelly’s drug use.
At a previous hearing, it was revealed that Kelly was high on methamphetamine when he grabbed Cleo.
But Ms Condon argued for more than an hour that it was wrong to conclude that Kelly’s methamphetamine use played a “significant” role in her decision to kidnap Cleo.
Judge Robert Mazza, who, along with Judges Michael Buss and Stephen Hall, will decide the appeal, said the fact that Kelly’s drug use was a factor in his offending was “absolutely obvious,” he reported. Western Australia
Ms Condon also argued that the sentencing judge “failed to give appropriate weight to the applicant’s disadvantages and childhood trauma”.
These included Kelly’s severe personality disorder and her depressing history of child abuse and neglect.
Ms Condon argued the sentencing judge did not apply the Bugmy Principles, which mean social factors such as Aboriginality and social deprivation should be given “full weight in determining the appropriate sentence in each case”.
The mother of Cleo Smith, the four-year-old girl who was kidnapped during a family camping trip in WA, married her long-term partner last September.
The lawyer, who also recently represented drug dealer Tony Mokbel in court in Victoria, said Kelly’s kidnapping was not in the worst category of crime.
“By any measure, this was not a crime that was in the worst category of crime,” Ms. Condon argued.
‘It was spontaneous and opportunistic… and was not the subject of planning or well thought out intentions. There was no prior surveillance. There was no violence.
‘He made 12 references to (the intention to) steal money, not a child. Full of expressions of remorse and multiple references to the guilt he felt almost immediately after turning to child theft.
But Judge Michael Buss commented that while it “started like that”, it continued for 18 days.
Cleo Smith was held captive for 18 days after being taken from a tent in the middle of the night while sleeping alongside her parents and little sister on a camping trip. She appears in a photo of her with her mother Ellie one day after being found.
State prosecutors opposed Kelly’s appeal.
Lindsay Fox SC said that after kidnapping the “completely helpless” girl, it was the time Kelly held Cleo captive that pushed her case into the worst category.
“Every day there was a conscious decision of some kind to move on; he never comes to,” Fox said.
“It was extraordinary police work (that found her); it was no act on their part that she was rescued.”
Kelly was not present in court for the appeal hearing.
The three appeal judges reserved their decision for a later date.
Terence Kelly (pictured) has appealed his 13 and a half year prison sentence.