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Guilty plea Terence Kelly admits to abducting Cleo Smith (4) from family tent in west Australia

Police found Cleo Smith alone in a house 18 days after she went missing last October.

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Cleo Smith (WA Police/PA)

Cleo Smith (WA Police/PA)

Cleo Smith (WA Police/PA)

A man has pleaded guilty to abducting a four-year-old girl from her family’s camping tent on Australia’s west coast last year.

Police found the girl, Cleo Smith, alone in a house in Carnavon, a town of 5,000 people, 18 days after she went missing last October.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, admitted to the abduction during a brief court appearance in Carnarvon on Monday in a video link from a Perth prison, 900 kilometres (560 miles) to the south.

He faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison on a conviction of forcibly taking a child aged under 16. He will next appear in a Western Australian state District Court in Perth on March 20.

Kelly has not entered a plea to other criminal charges he faces, including assaulting a public officer. Those charges have been adjourned to a later date.

At this point, a date may be set for his sentencing and details of Cleo's kidnapping are expected to be revealed.

He is alleged to have acted alone.

The case made headlines around the world when Cleo was discovered and reunited with her parents in early November.

Police swiftly detained Mr Kelly on a nearby street and he was remanded in custody after his first appearance in court.

Bail was not considered when Mr Kelly returned to court last month.

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