Man who took Aussie Madeleine McCann went to steal goods but grabbed tot instead

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    A man who was jailed for kidnapping four-year-old Cleo Smith had set out to steal valuables from the family before taking the child instead.

    Terence Kelly, 37, admitted to snatching the tot, dubbed Australia's Madeleine McCann, from a tent on a campsite where she had been sleeping with her parents and baby sister on October 16, 2021.

    Kelly, who has now been sentenced to 13-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to stealing the child, unzipped the wall of the tent between 2.40am and 4.40am and took the toddler from where she was sleeping.

    READ MORE: Fake Madeleine McCann 'has claimed she was missing child since she was a teen'

    At the time he was under the influence of methamphetamines and had gone to the tent to steal valuables, but spotted Cleo and took her instead, a court heard.

    Kelly took the tot into the front seat of his car and travelled 47 miles to his home in Carnarvon, taking dirt roads to avoid being found.

    The man then kept Cleo captive for 18 days as she fought back against his attempts, with him tying her to a chair.

    "I just used sticky tape, but it wasn't working. So, I thought, 'I won't tie her up anymore with the sticky tape'," he confessed.

    "I tried to tie her to the chair and that with her hands, feet and mouth. I tried to do that. She was a bit of a fighter.”

    Kelly also said he "roughed her up a few times" when the child became "bossy" and demanded chocolate, or when she demanded to be returned to her parents.

    He said he wanted to keep her in his home so he could dress her up and play with her, and it has since emerged he had an obsession with Bratz dolls.

    "I, you know, wanted to hold on to her," he said. "I wasn't planning to keep her forever."

    Eventually police identified Kelly as a key suspect thanks to mobile phone signals and a tip-off.

    On November 3, officers stormed the drug addict's home just before 1am and carried Cleo to safety.

    Judge Julie Wager heard during Cleo's captivity she spent most days trapped in a bedroom on her own.

    The sick kidnapper tampered with the door handle so the room could only locked from the outside, and put on the radio to drown out any noise made by the tot.

    A psychiatrist asked to analyse Kelly in the case said he suffered from a severe personality disorder after he was neglected in childhood, causing him to create a "fantasy world" in which he had several imaginary children by different women.

    Judge Wager said: "The young victim heard her name on the radio and she said they were saying her name."

    The judge, sentencing, noted Kelly's troubled childhood but said his risk of re-offending was high.

    "You pose a high risk of seriously psychologically harming any future victim in the event that you did re-offend," she said.

    Kelly will be eligible for parole in 11 years and six months.

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    • Madeleine Mccann
    • Australia
    • Crime

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