Cleveland 'monster' kidnapper apologises

CHICAGO, Illinois - Ariel Castro apologised for kidnapping three young women and holding them captive for a decade in his Ohio home at a sentencing hearing Thursday.

"I would like to apologise," Castro told the judge as the hearing opened, adding that he would speak more later in the day.

Castro's lawyers urged the judge to prevent graphic photos depicting the sexual abuse of the three women or for any unnecessary details of their private pain from being presented publically.

"Mr Castro does accept full responsibility for his conduct," defence attorney Craig Weintraub told the court.

"What we wanted to avoid was offering up the details of salacious facts... That's why Mr. Castro agreed to a sentence of life without parole."

The stunning case came to light after Amanda Berry, 27, managed to escape with her six-year-old daughter by calling out to a neighbour for help through a locked front door on May 6.

For years, the women were kept chained by their ankles in locked rooms in Castro's house in a working class neighborhood of Cleveland.

Snatched off the street in separate incidents at the ages of 20, 16, and 14, the women suffered violent beatings and repeated rapes.

They were rarely given access to the bathroom and instead had to relieve themselves in plastic buckets that were "emptied infrequently," prosecutors said.

Michelle Knight, 32, was impregnated four times during her 11 years of captivity. Castro terminated at least one of the pregnancies by starving her for days and then kicking and jumping on her stomach.

Berry was allowed to carry a pregnancy to term, giving birth in a plastic kiddie pool on Christmas Day, 2006.

Gina DeJesus, a friend of Castro's daughter, was just 14 when she was abducted.

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