Cleo Smith: Man, 36, charged with abducting four-year-old girl in Australia

Youngster found safe by police 18 days after disappearing from family’s tent at remote campsite

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 04 November 2021 10:09
<p>A man has been charged over the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith (pictured with her mother) who disappeared from her family’s tent at a remote campsite in Western Australia</p>

A man has been charged over the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith (pictured with her mother) who disappeared from her family’s tent at a remote campsite in Western Australia

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A man has been charged over the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith, who went missing from a remote campsite in Western Australia.

Terry Kelly, 36, was charged with a string of offences including forcibly taking a child under 16.

He appeared at Carnarvon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and is due to appear again on 6 December.

Police said the man was twice taken to hospital for self-inflicted injuries before being interviewed and charged with various offences related to the abduction.

Cleo went missing from her family’s tent in the early hours of 16 October at the remote Blowholes Shacks campsite in Macleod, sparking a huge search.

The youngster was found safe on Wednesday after police raided a locked house in Carnarvon, a town about 62 miles south of the campsite and just two miles from her family home.

She had been playing with dolls with the light on inside a room at the time, police said.

Police have released an audio recording of the moment they discovered the four-year-old after entering the house.

An officer can be heard saying “I’ve got you bubby, you’re alright” as another asks the child “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

After being asked a third time, the child finally responds: “My name is Cleo.”

After meeting her family, state premier Mark McGowan said Cleo was a “very bright, upbeat, sweet little girl” and looked “very well adjusted”, considering her ordeal.

Specialist child interviewers are expected to speak to the youngster, authorities said, while her parents have been instructed on how to talk to her to preserve her memory.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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