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Preacher guilty of kidnapping teen

A federal jury in the US has convicted a former street preacher of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart more than eight years ago.

The verdict finally brought justice for Miss Smart and her family after the ordeal that began when Brian David Mitchell took her from her home at knifepoint and held her captive for nine months when she was 14.

Now 23, Miss Smart testified during the five-week trial in Salt Lake City that she was forced into a polygamous marriage and endured near daily rapes.

The jury found Mitchell guilty of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of illegal sex.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The case of Miss Smart tugged at hearts around the US ever since the Utah teenager was snatched from her bedroom and resurfaced nine months later.

She gave a slight smile as she heard the guilty verdict then turned to her mother and both smiled.

Miss Smart and her family have hoped for the guilty verdict and a long sentence to end the ordeal that began when she was taken from her home.

She flew back from her Mormon mission in Paris to take the stand, and recount her "nine months of hell".

"The beginning and the end of this story is attributable to a woman with extraordinary courage and extraordinary determination, and that's Elizabeth Smart," federal prosecutor Carlie Christensen said outside the courthouse. "She did it with candour and clarity and a truthfulness that I think moved all of us," she said.


From Belfast Telegraph