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Top cop speaks after Cleo Smith Detective Cameron Blaine stood down in misconduct allegation

WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch has broken his silence on the misconduct investigation that saw a prominent Detective central to saving Cleo Smith from her kidnapper stood down.

WA Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing an investigation into a senior Detective, who is understood to be Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine.

Speaking to 6PR on Wednesday, Commissioner Blanch said standing down Detective Blaine was “in no way a finding of guilt”.

“We are at a position in the investigation where we don’t make any comment; firstly because (the investigation) is managed by the CCC, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further,” he said.

“But we have stood that officer down, and I think that does demonstrate we’re making decisions based on the early information we have.

“That is in no way whatsoever a finding of guilt, or anything else, other than to say we are conducting an investigation with the CCC and we are not going to make any other comment.”

cleo is found
Camera IconDetective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine has been stood down. Colin Murty Credit: News Corp Australia

The statement released by the CCC on Tuesday said: “A senior Detective has today been stood down as investigations into alleged misconduct are ongoing.

“Oversight of police conduct is an integral part of the CCC’s work and accounts for a significant amount of allegations it receives.”

Commissioner Blanch said he was trying to remain at arms length from the investigation in order to be impartial “if he has to make a decision later on any sanctions”.

According to Business News, a reporter from Seven West Media is also involved in the investigation.

The CCC has reportedly seized the detective’s phone and other items as part of the probe.

WA Police have refused to confirm the media link and will not make further comment about the investigation.

Commissioner Blanch declined to respond to a question posed by 6PR host Gareth Parker that the investigation was linked to a suggestion Detective Blaine had disclosed information to a journalist.

The Commissioner said it was “standard practice” to take an officer’s phone if they are stood down, but was not able to confirm it had happened in the course of the current investigation into the Detective.

Sergeant Blaine has been involved in some of the biggest cases in WA.

He was one of four officers on the scene when four-year-old Cleo was rescued from a house in Carnarvon after disappearing from her family’s campsite 18 days earlier.

In a video that went viral across the world when she was found in November last year, Mr Blaine gently speaks with Cleo after her rescue.

“Cleo, my name’s Cameron, are you OK?” he asks the four-year-old in the video.

“We’re going to take you to see your mummy and daddy, is that good?”

Moments earlier, Sergeant Blaine helped force entry into the house before the group found the girl sitting in a bedroom.

Talking to media the following day, the Detective said it was “absolutely fantastic to see her sitting there … it was incredible”.

In a video shared by WA Police, Sergeant Blaine can be seen talking to Cleo Smith minutes after she was rescued. WA Police
Camera IconIn a video shared by WA Police, Sergeant Blaine can be seen talking to Cleo Smith minutes after she was rescued. WA Police Credit: Supplied

“I asked her what her name was. One of the guys jumped in front of me and picked her up and I just wanted to be absolutely sure that … it was her,” Sergeant Blaine said at the time.

“I said, ‘What is your name?’ She didn’t answer … I asked three times and then she looked at me and said ‘My name is Cleo’.”

Sergeant Blaine said it was the best moment of his career.

Cleo’s kidnapper Terence Kelly has pleaded guilty and will face a sentencing hearing in December.

Sergeant Blaine has also led major homicide cases in WA, including the killing of Aaron Pajich-Sweetman by wannabe serial killer Jemma Lilley and her accomplice Trudi Lenon in 2013.

He was recently involved in the arrest of Toby Moran over the murder of his backpacker girlfriend Simone Strobel in NSW in 2005.

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