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A photo of Cleo Smith after her rescue.
A photo of Cleo Smith after her rescue.
Image: Western Australia Police Force

Police release footage of rescue of four-year-old girl missing for 18 days in Australia

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said ‘My name is Cleo’.”
Nov 3rd 2021, 8:13 AM 79,760 17

AUSTRALIAN POLICE HAVE released body camera footage of the rescue of four-year-old Cleo Smith who was missing for 18 days in a remote part of Western Australia.

The child disappeared from her family’s tent at a campsite near the town of Carnarvon on 16 October.

A massive police operation was launched and the case was the focus of intense media coverage.

Cleo was found alive and well in a locked house in the early hours of Wednesday. A 36-year-old man is in custody.

“They found little Cleo in one of the rooms,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch from Western Australia Police said.

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said ‘My name is Cleo’.”  

Western Australia state police commissioner Chris Dawson said the girl is “as well as you can expect”, adding: “This has been an ordeal. I won’t go into any more details, other than to say we’re so thankful she’s alive.”

Dawson said “dogged, methodical police work” led to the girl being found.

The police chief said body camera video of four police officers breaking into the house with a search warrant and finding the girl made him emotional.

It’s a really joyous occasion. We don’t always get these sort of outcomes, and while we were very, very concerned, we didn’t lose hope.

New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said Dawson told him he had broken down in tears when she was found.

“He broke down and cried, which for a veteran in policing, you rarely see that,” Fuller told Sydney Radio 2GB. “It speaks volumes in terms of the amount of effort they put into finding her.”

“Whilst we were all hoping and praying as the days went on, I think the chances of finding her alive were so slim,” he added.

The girl was reunited with her mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon soon after her rescue.

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“Our family is whole again,” the mother said on social media.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison thanked the police for finding Cleo and supporting her family.

“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. The fact that that nightmare has come to an end and our worst fears were not realised is just a huge relief, a moment for great joy,” Morrison said.

“This particular case, obviously, has captured the hearts of Australians as we felt such terrible sorrow for the family,” he added.

With reporting from Press Association

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