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Phillip Garrido (right) and his wife Nancy (second from left), pictured with their attorneys Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Press Association Images

Girl who was kept captive for 18 years says she's "relieved" by her kidnappers' guilty pleas

Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched from the street she lived on in June 1991, and was kept hidden in a back garden for 18 years. She gave birth to two daughters during that time.

A CONVICTED SEX offender and his wife have pleaded guilty to abducting an 11-year-old girl in the US in 1991 and holding her captive for 18 years in their back garden.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido admitted kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her captive in a hidden compound of tents and sheds behind their house.  Dugard gave birth to two daughters after being repeatedly raped.

Dugard has said that she’s “relieved” by the guilty pleas, which form part of a deal with prosecutors which was struck in order to keep the victim and her children from having to testify at a trial.

Phillip Garrido, 60, faces a maximum prison sentence of 431 years after pleading guilty to 14 counts of kidnapping and sexual assault charges, including six counts of rape. His wife Nancy. 55, who originally faced the same charges as her husband and a maximum sentence of 181 years in prison, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of rape. She faces a maximum sentence of 36 years to life imprisonment.

Both will be sentenced on 2 June. Their lawyers have admitted that it is unlikely that they will ever be granted parole. Nancy Garrido’s defence lawyer Stephen Tapson said:

She’s willing, probably, to do anything to avoid actually having the kids have to testify. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be in a casket [when she leaves prison].

Phillip Garrido was also eager to spare Dugard and their daughters from having to testify and wanted to accept responsibility for his crimes “to let the world know he changed his behaviour”, according to Deputy Public Defender Susan Gellman, noting that the indictment states that none of the rapes were committed after 1997.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched by Nancy Garrido from the street she lived on with her family near Lake Tahoe in California on 10 June 1991. She was forced into a car driven by Philip Garrido.

He reappearance 18 years later came almost as a fluke. In the days before his arrest, Phillip Garrido had become more determined to tell people about the religious group he founded called God’s Desire, and campus police officers at the University of California in Berkley became suspicious when he showed up with his daughters, seeking a permit for a religious event. After running a background check, they found that he had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in Reno in 1977.

The officers contacted Garrido’s parole officer, who was surprised to hear that he had young daughters and ordered him to come in for a meeting. Garrido attended the meeting, but brought along Nancy, Jaycee and his two daughters. Dugard attempted to conceal her identity, but under questioning the truth was revealed.

She was reunited with her mother the following day and lives in northern California with her daughters. She received a €20 million settlement from the state of California, which acknowledged that repeated mistakes had been made.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was found 18 years, four months and 16 days after being abducted on 10 June 1991

- Additional reporting by AP

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