A man has been charged over the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith.
Officers discovered Cleo inside a locked house in Carnarvon, Western Australia, overnight on Wednesday, November 3, 18 days after she disappeared while on a camping trip with her family.
After being held in custody for two days, 36-year-old Carnarvon man Terence Darrell Kelly has now been charged with various offences, which include forcibly taking a child below the age of 16.
As reported by ABC News, Kelly did not apply for bail and was also not required to enter a plea while appearing before Carnarvon Magistrates’ Court this afternoon, Thursday, November 4.
It is alleged that Kelly took the little girl as she slept inside her family’s tent at the Blowholes campgrounds, close to Carnarvon, on October 16.
Earlier today, officers released audio footage of the moment they discovered missing Cleo ‘alive and well’ at a house some 74km away from the campsite where she’d vanished more than two weeks before.
In the clip, officers can be heard asking little Cleo her name, trying to reassure her while desperately attempting to get a positive identification. After being asked for her name three times, the young girl can be heard telling officers, ‘My name is Cleo.’
As per a statement from the Western Australia Police Force, Cleo was reunited with her worried parents a short while later.
Speaking after Cleo was safely brought home, Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said:
This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for. It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work. I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers.
Taking to Instagram, Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith shared a smiling picture of her young daughter with the touching caption, ‘Our family is whole again.’
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
Western Australian Police Force/Facebook