Cleo Smith’s parents are genuinely baffled by their daughter’s disappearance, according to Australia’s leading body language expert who has forensically analysed their latest public plea for help.
Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon made a fresh, emotional appeal for information on Monday — 10 days since the four-year-old girl mysteriously vanished from their tent during a family camping trip in Carnarvon.
WATCH THE INTERVIEW IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
During the interview with Flashpoint, the couple were asked if they had any involvement with the abduction and both denied it.
Queensland author and body language expert Allan Pease, pictured below, said he was confident they were telling the truth.
“There was nothing contradictory or deceitful or collusive about them — I see them as trying to emotionally support each other,” he told The West Australian.
“They’re very raw in their behaviour.”
Mr Pease said while some may think Mr Gliddon was concealing something by looking down while speaking — he considered it as a sign of defeat and low self-esteem.
“He looks like he’s been kicked around — which he has, I mean he’s been accused by the keyboard warriors of having some sort of involvement (with the abduction).
He definitely shows signs of being downtrodden.
When Ms Smith denied her involvement she looked directly at the camera, quivering her mouth as she answered — a sign of “raw emotion” and sincerity according to Mr Pease.
When asked how she felt going back to her home, the mother-of-two answered by referring to herself in third person, which Mr Pease said was a way of “emotionally protecting” herself.
“When you’re talking in third person, you give yourself a bit of emotional protection from being attacked,” he explained.
“When she looked at Jake she’d say ‘we’ and ‘I’ but when she looked at the reporter she’d [refer to herself as] ‘you’.
“That could well be because they’ve clearly had a bit of a pounding with all this and it becomes difficult to talk about how you emotionally feel because you’re putting your heart on the line when you do that.”
Mr Pease — who has published 15 books on body language — said Ms Smith would often pose the reporter’s question back to him.
“Maybe she didn’t want to answer it — that’s what the keyboard warriors will argue,” he said.
“But the most likely explanation is when you talk about ‘I’ and how you feel, you’re putting your heart on your sleeve — by repeating the question back it’s made rhetorical.”
The couple were first interviewed on camera five days after Cleo disappeared.
Mr Pease said the main difference now was that the couple were much more emotionally reliant on each other in the latest interview.
“Ellie is constantly deferring to him (Jake) to make sure that what she’s saying is OK,” he said.
“When she was answering questions the reporter asked, she’d give the answer but she’d look at Jake, she didn’t actually answer to the reporter.
“That could be because she’s intimidated ... I mean these are just ordinary people from a small country town having the media and the police thrust in their face.
“These people just aren’t professional actors — they’re just lost.”