Australian man charged over abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith

An Australian man has been charged with the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith, who was rescued after being missing for 18 days.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, appeared in court in the town of Carnarvon charged with forcibly or fraudulently taking or enticing a child under 16.

Cleo disappeared from her family’s tent at a campsite on 16 October, triggering a massive search.

Police found her in a locked home in Carnarvon.

Cleo has since been reunited with her parents, who made desperate pleas for her return. “Our family is whole again,” her mother, Ellie Smith, wrote on Instagram.

Authorities said Mr Kelly had no connection to the Smith family.

Mr Kelly, who police say was taken to hospital with self-inflicted injuries before being charged, did not apply for bail and was not required to enter a plea at the Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court.

He has been remanded in custody until 6 December, according to local media reports.

Police allege he acted alone. They have previously said the kidnapping was unplanned and “opportunistic”.

Mr Kelly’s neighbours expressed shock that he might have been involved, telling the West Australian newspaper he was a “very quiet” man who “kept to himself” but was known to everyone on the street.

The man had been recently spotted by a neighbour buying nappies.

The search for Cleo at one stage had been likened to finding “a needle in a haystack”, covering vast distances.

In the end, the house where she was discovered was 100km south of the remote campsite where she had last been seen, but just a few kilometres from her own family home.