Cleo Smith went missing from her family’s tent on October 16 at a campsite close to the town of Carnarvon, 900km from Perth, Western Australia. Local police rescued the 4-year-old after tracing forensic evidence to a house in Carnarvon town, where they found the young girl locked into a room. Western Australia shared on social media the moving moment Cleo was rescued after over two weeks away from her family.
In the video, Cleo can be seen being held by an officer in a black jacket while Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blayne of the Homicide Squad points a flashlight towards her.
As the officer holding the girl approaches, Det. Sr Sergeant Blayne moves closer to start talking to Cleo reassuringly.
He can be heard saying: “Hiya, my name is Cameron. How are you? Are you ok?
“We’re going to take you to see your mummy and daddy, ok?”
Speaking to Sunrise Australia following the rescue, WA Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch said: “The team of 100 in the Taskforce have been working extremely hard over the course of the past 18 days and they’ve collected thousands of pieces of evidence, intelligence, data, witness statements.
“They’ve been looking for that needle in the haystack and late last night they found that needle that led them to that address and rescued Cleo. “
“Just an amazing moment. I’ve never seen seasoned detectives break down and cry with relief.
“That is the sentiment that’s shared across the community. That’s an amazing moment.”
A 36-year-old man is now in custody and is being questioned by detectives.
Homicide Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said the man is “known to police” but told the press he had “to be very careful around that.”
Det. Supt Wild said watching footage of Cleo Smith being rescued had been “just amazing.”
He added: “We obviously had real concerns for Cleo’s welfare.
“And as time passed by, they grew worse. So to see that it was just amazing.”
Senior Sergeant Blayne described the moment Cleo was found as “complete shock”.
He added: “Quickly followed by elation. To see her sitting there in the way she was, it was incredible.”
Mr Blayne said it had been “an honour” to be able to witness Cleo reuniting with her parents at the hospital shortly after the rescue.
He described the 4-year-old as a “little energiser bunny” and “very trusting and very open” with him and other officers.
The Senior Sergeant said: “How she has that much energy, I wish I did, I am about ready to go to sleep. Very sweet, energetic girl.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted his congratulations to WA Police for rescuing Cleo, saying: “What wonderful, relieving news.
“Cleo Smith has been found and is home safe and sound. Our prayers answered. Thank you to the many police officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family.”