Cleo Smith rescue team given round of applause at Carnarvon pub


The team behind the rescue of Cleo Smith were given a round of applause as they enjoyed a pint at a pub to celebrate the safe return of the four-year-old girl.

Nearly 50 officers, including forensics, data analysts and detectives, were given the hero’s welcome by pubgoers as they packed into the Carnarvon watering hole. 

The group was part of Taskforce Rodia – the team responsible for finally ending an 18-day long search mission that began when Cleo was allegedly kidnapped from her family tent at the remote Blowholes campsite in Western Australia on October 16.

The accused Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, has been charged with multiple offences including forcibly taking a child under 16. 

Many members of the taskforce were parents meaning their investment in the search and rescue went beyond their police duties – for them, it was deeply personal.

The team behind the rescue of Cleo Smith were given a round of applause as they enjoyed a pint at a pub to celebrate the safe return of the four-year-old girl

The team behind the rescue of Cleo Smith were given a round of applause as they enjoyed a pint at a pub to celebrate the safe return of the four-year-old girl

Clutching a pink balloon, Cleo Smith was pictured in her mum's arms outside her Carnarvon home on Thursday, 24 hours after her incredible rescue

Clutching a pink balloon, Cleo Smith was pictured in her mum’s arms outside her Carnarvon home on Thursday, 24 hours after her incredible rescue

One of the officers who took part in the rescue mission was a father-to-be (pictured, Cleo being rescued)

One of the officers who took part in the rescue mission was a father-to-be (pictured, Cleo being rescued)

One of the officers has a baby on the way. The soon-to-be-father was part of the group that rescued Cleo as they stormed into the housing commission property and found the little girl in a locked room shortly before 1am on Wednesday.

The celebrations will, no doubt, continue as the officers prepare to return to their homes in Perth. 

Some have been spotted visiting local surf shops and purchasing a memento to take home. The most popular souvenir appears to be a cap with the Carnarvon postcode ‘6701’.

The caps will serve as a constant reminder for the time when an entire coastal town was brought to their knees by the disappearance of a four-year-old girl and lifted back up to their feet by a small group of officers who found her safe and well. 

Detective Senior Constable Kurt Ford said officers had little expectations as they prepared to storm the housing commission property after receiving a tip-off. 

‘I don’t think we had really any expectations going in – we didn’t know what we were going into,’ he said.

‘If anything, our expectations weren’t great. It was an emotional experience going in, and it was a good result.

‘I just saw a little girl sitting there and didn’t think about anything else than picking her up.’

Body worn cameras captured the moment detectives rescued little Cleo from a locked bedroom inside a housing commission property in Carnarvon’s outskirts shortly before 1am.

It will be a day WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson will never forget as he recalled new details to the state’s 7,200 officers in internal weekly publication From The Line.

‘It was a day that will go down in history as one of the greatest triumphs for WA Police Force. For many officers, it will be the greatest day of their careers,’ Commissioner Dawson said.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson (pictured) as shared new details of Cleo Smith's incredible rescue and how the little girl fell asleep in her mum's arms when he met Cleo on Wednesday

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson (pictured) as shared new details of Cleo Smith’s incredible rescue and how the little girl fell asleep in her mum’s arms when he met Cleo on Wednesday

‘My heart has been bursting with pride since I first received a phone call from Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch advising of Cleo’s rescue shortly before 1am.

‘Today, I want that pride to fill the hearts of all employees of this great agency.’

The commissioner met Cleo along with her mum Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and her grandparents at the family home just hours after the little girl was rescued.

‘As Cleo and her mum were exchanging kisses and hugs she fell asleep in Ellie’s arms,’ he recalled.

‘None of us will forget that day. It’s why we join the police force.

‘From the bottom of my heart – which is so very swollen with pride – thank you to all… Enjoy this moment in history and let it carry you forward in service of our community.’ 

He also sent an photo of Cleo smiling and waving in hospital to WA Premier Mark McGowan, who described the little girl as well adjusted, sweet and delightful during his visit to the family home on Thursday.

Commissioner Dawson also recalled the heart-melting moment he first heard the audio of the little girl’s rescue and the first words she uttered, telling officers: ‘My name is Cleo’.

‘In policing, we frequently see the worst of society and the circumstances surrounding Cleo’s abduction certainly fit that bill,’ he said.

Cleo is back in the arms of her mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon (pictured on Thursday)

Cleo is back in the arms of her mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon (pictured on Thursday)

‘But on occasion…we also have the great privilege of having a front row seat to witness the very best of humanity and the rescue of Cleo is one of those moments.

‘It should be treasured.’ 

Meanwhile, Cleo parents are under strict instructions by police not to discuss the four-year-old’s 18-day nightmare with her. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine revealed on Thursday that discussing the details of what happened could jeopardise the prosecution’s case by diluting the accuracy of her information.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, who is not known to the family but lives just minutes away, was charged with multiple offences on Thursday night, including Cleo’s kidnapping.  

He appeared in Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon, where he was formally refused bail.

Police have warned Cleo’s parents to wait until specialist child abuse detectives formally interview the four-year-old before talking about the traumatic events with her.

Police officer's guard the Tonkin Crescent house in Carnarvon, WA where Cleo Smith was rescued

Police officer’s guard the Tonkin Crescent house in Carnarvon, WA where Cleo Smith was rescued

Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine (pictured) warned the parents discussing the details of what happened could jeopardise the prosecution's case by diluting the accuracy of Cleo's information

Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine (pictured) warned the parents discussing the details of what happened could jeopardise the prosecution’s case by diluting the accuracy of Cleo’s information

‘This is still a matter that needs to go before the courts, there’s certain aspects of what we saw that is going to be evidence, and I don’t want to say anything that’s going to prejudice that,’ Senior Sergeant Blaine, who was one of the four detectives that rescued Cleo from the locked house said.

‘It’s not always the case that people understand that, but we want to see a successful prosecution at the end of the day for the people who are responsible.

‘We’ve given them advice around that, and that must be incredibly hard for them, so we appreciate their assistance and cooperation with that.’

He said the family have been ‘cooperative and understanding’ all the way through the hellish ordeal as police worked tirelessly to track down Cleo’s alleged abductor.

‘They understand where we are going with the investigation and what remains to be done,’ Senior Sergeant Blaine said.

‘Our family liaison officer is going back out there now to speak to them and talk them through the next steps.’

Cleo Smith's mother Ellie was seen with her daughter for the first time since her dramatic rescue on Thursday afternoon

Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie was seen with her daughter for the first time since her dramatic rescue on Thursday afternoon

Little Cleo is seen getting into the car with her mother Ellie on Thursday afternoon, one day after she was rescued

Little Cleo is seen getting into the car with her mother Ellie on Thursday afternoon, one day after she was rescued

A heart-warming audio clip of the moment detectives first found Cleo alone in a room playing with toys was heard for the first time on Thursday. 

Sergeant Blaine can be heard asking the little girl ‘what is your name?’ three times before she finally falteringly replied: ‘M-my name is Cleo.’

He said police have tried to share as much information they can with the parents but at this stage investigators are still piecing all the details together themselves. 

‘We share with them what information we can. They know what they need to know,’ Senior Sergeant Blaine said.

‘Obviously it’s still a time where we’re exploring all the facts. We’re getting information from, still, a number of different sources. Some of that information is completely wrong.

‘So we’re careful about what information we share with people, we want to make sure we’re 100 per cent sure of the facts.’ 

Terry Kelly, 36, was taken away from Carnarvon police station, in Western Australia, after sustaining head injuries

Terry Kelly, 36, was taken away from Carnarvon police station, in Western Australia, after sustaining head injuries

It’s been 45 hours since police dragged Kelly out of his car at about midnight on Wednesday and slapped handcuffs on him. 

The process of charging has been delayed after Kelly was allegedly attacked by another prisoner inside a police holding cell within hours of his arrest.

He was taken to hospital with head injuries and released after medical treatment.

But police revealed on Thursday he had been returned to hospital for a second time after he is understood to have suffered new injuries while alone in his police cell.  

Police forensic teams are continuing to scour the Tonkin Crescent address where Cleo was found

Police forensic teams are continuing to scour the Tonkin Crescent address where Cleo was found 

Thousands of missing person's posters were put up for Cleo Smith all over Carnarvon and surrounding areas

Thousands of missing person’s posters were put up for Cleo Smith all over Carnarvon and surrounding areas

Forensic officers are expected to be at the home where Cleo was found for days if not weeks

Forensic officers are expected to be at the home where Cleo was found for days if not weeks

Any future trial could be jeopardised if detectives tried to rush the process, the WA Deputy Police Commissioner told Seven’s Sunrise.

‘The important thing for police, if we’re going to interview someone about offences as serious as this… we will need them in a condition where they have had a rest, they’re in a good mental state, they’ve been fed,’ he said.

‘So, we’ve got to make sure we give them the best opportunity to answer questions and that’s to ensure that the court process is validated if we get to that point.’  

When detectives first found the little girl alone in a room playing with toys Sergeant Blaine asked her 'what is your name?' three times before she finally falteringly replied: 'M-my name is Cleo'

When detectives first found the little girl alone in a room playing with toys Sergeant Blaine asked her ‘what is your name?’ three times before she finally falteringly replied: ‘M-my name is Cleo’

A beaming Cleo is seen from her hospital bed after she was rescued by police on Wednesday

A beaming Cleo is seen from her hospital bed after she was rescued by police on Wednesday

Kelly had only been at Carnarvon police station for a few hours on Wednesday when he was allegedly set upon by a prisoner and taken to hospital the first time.

That prisoner’s mother told Daily Mail Australia her son was ‘furious’ when he discovered why Kelly had been arrested.  

‘As soon as he heard this bloke was arrested over that little Cleo, he blew up, beat him black and blue,’ the woman said.

‘I tell you what, he (Kelly) got a real hiding… my son had to be taken out in shackles, and he (Kelly) was taken for treatment… he was in a bad way. He is a big bloke but he really copped it’. 

A spokesman for the Western Australia Police Force said detectives would not be commenting on the woman’s claims.

Kelly was loaded into an ambulance outside the police station yesterday morning and taken to hospital for treatment. A large white bandage was wrapped around his head. 

CLEO DISAPPEARANCE TIMELINE

 By Olivia Day for Daily Mail Australia

Friday, October 15

Cleo along with her mother Ellie Smith, her partner Jake Gliddon and her little sister Isla Mae arrive at the Blowholes campsite around 6:30pm.

They had a ‘quiet’ night and arrived at sunset.

Saturday, October 16

1:30am: Parents’ last sighting of Cleo in the tent she shared with her parents and baby sister when the four-year-old asks for some water.

6.23am: Ellie calls 000 to report her eldest daughter missing as she continues to search the camp ground.

6.30am: The first two officers are dispatched from Carnarvon police station. They travel to Blowholes as a matter of priority, with sirens and lights.

6.41am: A second police car with another two officers is sent to Blowholes, also with lights and sirens.

7.10am: The first police car arrives. The second is only minutes behind.

7.26am: Police on the scene establish a protected forensic area which is taped off to the public, surrounding the family tent where Cleo was last seen.

7.33am: A drone operator is called upon to search from the skies.

7.44am: A third police car is dispatched to the Blowholes.

8am: Family and friends of Cleo’s parents begin to arrive to help with the ground search.

Another group of detectives briefly searches Cleo’s home to make sure she’s not there.

They then head to Blowholes and begin stopping cars coming into and leaving the area.

8.09am: A helicopter from a local company arrived at the scene and started searching as police request an SES team attend the Blowholes search.

8.24am: Police air-wing and volunteer marine searchers are called in to assist with the search.

8.34am: Roadblocks are set up at the entrance of Blowholes as detectives gather the names, registration details and addresses of people coming and going. Police search cars.

9.25am: Nine SES personel arrive at the Blowholes to assist with the search.

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

9.30am: Detectives sit down with a distressed Ellie and remain by her side for the rest of the day while other search crews hunt for Cleo.

11am: Homicide detectives from the Major Crime Division are called and begin travelling from Perth to assist with the search.

1pm: More homicide detectives and search experts are flown in from Perth.

3pm: Officers and search experts arrive in Carnarvon to offer their expertise.

Sunday, October 17

Ms Smith takes to social media to plead for help finding her missing daughter.

A Facebook post uploaded at 1:45am on Sunday which said: ‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last seen the sparkle in my little girl’s eyes.

‘Please help me find her!

‘If you hear or see anything at all please call the police!’

Police suggest Cleo may have been abducted.

Monday, October 18

Police release an image of the red and grey sleeping bag missing from Cleo’s tent.

Cleo’s biological father is interviewed by police in Mandurah and is asked to provide a statement, which he does so willingly.

WA Police with the help of SES members, volunteers and aircraft continue the land hunt for Cleo, with officers searching nearby shacks and vehicles in the area.

Tuesday, October 19

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon front the media for the first time and describe the terrifying moment they realised the little girl was missing.

Ms Smith says her four-year-old would never have left the tent by herself.

Police release new images of Cleo and the pink and blue one-piece she was wearing the night she went missing to aid the investigation.

Investigators urge anyone who was at the campsite or in the vicinity on October 15 to get in contact with police. 

Wednesday, October 20

Police reveal the zip of the family tent, which was found hanging wide open by her mother at 6am on Saturday morning, was too high for Cleo to reach.

Officers say they ‘haven’t ruled out’ reports from campers who heard the sound of screeching tyres in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Deputy Police Commissioner Daryl Gaunt confirms officers are investigating the whereabouts of 20 registered sex offenders in the Carnarvon area.

Thursday, October 21

The WA Government offers a $1million reward for information that leads to Cleo’s location announced by WA Premier Mark McGowan.

‘All Western Australians’ thoughts are with Cleo’s family during what is an unimaginably difficult time,’ Mr McGowan said.

‘We’re all praying for a positive outcome.’

The speed of the reward being issued – within days of her disappearance – was unprecedented.

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA 

Monday, October 25

WA Police confirm Cleo was definitely at the camp site – on CCTV footage on a camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from the family tent she disappeared from. 

Tuesday, October 26

Forensic officers and detectives spent much of the day at her home in Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, on Tuesday and left with two bags of evidence.

Although investigators had been to the home before, this was the first time they thoroughly searched inside with a forensics team.

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the search of the family home was ‘standard practice’ and did not indicate they were suspects in Cleo’s disappearance.

Wednesday, October 27

WA Police forensics officers return to the Blowholes campground and are seen collecting soil samples from a number of campfires near shacks in the area.

The federal government announce Australian Federal Police officers had been drafted in to support forensic and intelligence efforts.

Friday, October 29

Police return to the Blowholes camp to analyse the area with drones.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde returns to the Blowholes campsite to join the search for Cleo as the search hit the two-week mark.

He confirms national and international agencies are engaged in the search for Cleo.

Sunday, October 31

Detectives go door-knocking at a number of homes along the North West Coastal Highway in the North Plantations, 5km from Cleo’s hometown on Sunday.

Monday, November 1

Detectives sort through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite she vanished from.

The material was transported to Perth, where forensic officers and recruits sorted through hundreds of bags in search of items that may have helped them find Cleo.

Officers issue a plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the four-year-old disappeared.

Police renew an appeal for more businesses in Carnarvon to provide footage and go door to door in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram 

Wednesday, November 3

After two-and-a-half weeks of searching Cleo Smith is found alive and well in the early hours of November 3.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEST that little Cleo is alive and well and had been reunited with her relieved parents.

‘One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ he said. ‘She said: ‘My name is Cleo’.’

Ellie Smith posted to social media: ‘Our family is whole again’.

A Carnarvon man is currently in custody and being questioned by detectives.

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information 'big or small'

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information ‘big or small’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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