A 36-year-old Australian man has pleaded guilty to abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith and keeping her inside his home for more than two weeks.
Terence Darrell Kelly has appeared in Carnarvon Magistrates’ Court where he pleaded guilty to a charge of child stealing.
The 36-year-old could face up to 20 years in prison on a conviction of forcibly taking a child aged under 16.
He was arrested after detectives raided his home on 3 November and found the youngster locked inside a room, playing with dolls.
Mr Kelly has not admitted to other criminal charges he faces, including assaulting a police officer, which have been adjourned to a later date.
He is due to appear in a Western Australian state district court in Perth on 20 March.
Western Australia police minister Paul Papalia said: “Today’s guilty plea is confirmation of the excellent policing work and just how strong a case had been presented by Western Australian Police force.”
The toddler disappeared from her family’s tent on a campsite in Western Australia in October last year.
Initially, a huge land and sea search got under way on the assumption she had wandered away from her tent.
Eighteen days later, police officers found Cleo “alive and well” inside a locked house in her hometown of Carnarvon.
At the time, her mum, Ellie Smith, wrote on social media: “Our family is whole again.”
Western Australian police released heart-warming audio of the moment Cleo was rescued.
During the exchange, Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine asked for her name to which she responded: “My name is Cleo.”
He then said: “We’re going to take you to see your mummy and daddy, okay?”