2 Aug 2013

Cleveland kidnapper jailed for life

8:55 am on 2 August 2013

One of three women imprisoned in an Ohio home for about a decade has told their captor he will face hell for eternity, as he was jailed for life by a US court.

Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was on Thursday sentenced to life in prison for abducting, raping and holding captive three women for as long as 11 years, and murder for forcing one of the women to abort her pregnancy.

Castro last week pleaded guilty to several hundred counts of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder to avoid the death penalty. The court heard he kept his victims chained up and repeatedly raped them.

Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, were rescued this year after one of them escaped from the Cleveland home.

In her statement on Thursday, Michelle Knight told how Castro went to church every Sunday, before coming home to "torture" the women.

"I spent 11 years in hell," she told the court. "Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity."

Wearing leg shackles and dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Castro listened to her testimony without expression.

Castro then made a rambling statement to the court in which he blamed his sex addiction and the FBI for not properly investigating the kidnappings.

He told the court he was not a violent predator but was driven by sex and was sick. "I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction." he said. He said he was not a monster but a normal person and was "a happy person inside."

The three women went missing from the west side of Cleveland between 2002 and 2004. They were discovered on 6 May after neighbors heard Ms Berry's cries for help from Castro's home.