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Cleo Smith discovered: How the investigation into alleged abduction is ramping up

Holding a lollipop, Cleo Smith was showered with wrapped presents and gifts mailed to Carnarvon by well-wishers yesterday as detectives continued to investigate, speaking with neighbours of her accused kidnapper’s former home.

Wednesday marks a week since the four-year-old was rescued from the clutches of her alleged kidnapper Terence Kelly and returned home to her parents 18 days after she was snatched from her family’s tent.

Wearing pigtails, a unicorn top, and tutu, Cleo, held by her mother Ellie and accompanied by stepfather Jake Gliddon, were greeted by detectives and escorted inside Carnarvon police station on Tuesday before emerging a short time later.

Det. Sgt Jason Hutchinson — one of the four officers who helped rescue Cleo — was with the family helping to carry boxes of presents and items that may have previously been of interest to police, placing them into the boot.

The police station reunion followed another visit by Det-Sen Sgt Cameron Blaine — also one of the four hero cops and who is running the investigation — to Mr Kelly’s home.

This time Det-Sen Sgt Blaine suited up in forensic gear and entered the accused kidnapper’s home for the first time since he and his colleagues forced entry into the home to bundle Cleo to safety.

He and another detective put on blue protective suits, which covered their heads, and were also wearing masks and booties as they were escorted inside by forensic officers.

After emerging about 25 minutes later, Det-Sen Sgt Blaine said he could not comment when asked about the reason for the visit.

Cleo Smith abduction case. Det Snr Sgt Cameron Blaine visits the crime scene at 18A Tonkin Crescent in Carnarvon. Det Blaine suited up and went inside the house. The home of alleged abductor Terence Darrell Kelly. Picture Jackson Flindell The West Australian
Camera IconDet Snr Sgt Cameron Blaine at the crime scene. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

At the same time, forensic officers were examining a silver Mazda SUV in the driveway. The car, which does not have number plates and is covered in cobwebs, now has stickers marking evidence on its doors.

Officers were photographing and testing the interior of the car, which was believed to have been inherited from his grandmother, has remained in the driveway since his arrest. It is understood Mr Kelly was in another car when he was arrested nearby last week.

It is understood a forensic chemical has been sprayed inside the house, with a forensic officer emerging wearing a gas mask at one point on Tuesday.

A forensic tent that had been on the driveway over the past few days was packed away but it is believed forensics will return.

Our focus this week is for us to ascertain whether there was anyone else involved

Det-Sen Sgt Blaine was at the crime scene on Monday after landing back in Carnarvon where he inspected and photographed a white mobile phone that had been seized as evidence.

Mobile phone data from Mr Kelly was one of the crucial pieces of the puzzle in finding Cleo, police sources say.

Det-Sen Sgt Blaine had on Monday told reporters that the investigation’s focus had turned to whether there was “anyone else involved” in the four-year-old’s alleged abduction.

Det. Sen-Sgt Blaine urged local people to come forward with any information about any interactions they had with Mr Kelly during the 18 days she was missing.

“Our focus this week is for us to ascertain whether there was anyone else involved, that’s why we are still here,” Det. Sen-Sgt Blaine said.

“We just ask that if there was anyone that had any contact with Mr Kelly, whether you saw him or met him or spoke to him on the phone, during the relevant period to please make yourself known to police.”

Detectives on Tuesday spent about an hour with neighbours of Mr Kelly’s former home where he lived with his grandmother Penny Walker before she passed away last year.

In a 2019 oral history interview, Ms Walker revealed she took Mr Kelly in because his “mum didn’t want him and she threw him away”.

“I looked down at him and this little boy – God was giving me something back into my life… my children,” she said.

Ms Walker said she raised Mr Kelly alongside her two grandsons after the death of her daughter from multiple sclerosis.

Cousins Kahlia Brown and Kiara Cooyou, who also lived next door to Mr Kelly before he moved to Tonkin Crescent, said he was “quiet” and “kept to himself”.

“He wouldn’t even say hello or nothing to anyone,” Ms Cooyou said.

The pair, and another neighbour Athol Oakley all said they had been told Mr Kelly was spotted at the TAB on Melbourne Cup day — when he is still alleged to have had Cleo — with an unidentified woman.

“He was at the TAB putting bets on while the little girl was … in the house,” they said.

Despite the neighbours saying they did not believe Mr Kelly was capable of acting alone and would have had “help” — police dispelled reports they were investigating a mystery woman who could have been involved.

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