Cleo Smith: Man charged over alleged abduction of four-year-old girl in Australia

A man has been charged over the alleged abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith in Australia.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, has been charged with various offences including forcibly taking a child under the age of 16.

Kelly, from Carnavon, Western Australia, was arrested after police rescued Cleo from a locked house.

Earlier, police released audio of the moment she was discovered.

Following an 18-day search, the four-year-old was found inside a property two miles from her family home, and 62 miles south of the campsite she went missing from.

In the recording, an officer can be heard saying: “We got her, we got her.”

Another officer says, “hey bubby, come here” and “I’ve got you, you’re alright”.

A third one asks: “What’s your name, sweetheart?” The child replies: “My name is Cleo.”

Cleo has since been seen laughing and playing in her back garden. One of the police officers who found her, Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine, said: “I can only see her on the outside, but from that point of view, I’m amazed that she seems to be so well-adjusted and happy.

“It was really heart-warming to see that she’s still bubbly and she’s laughing.

“I’m sure that it has had an impact, but just to see her behaving quite naturally like a four-year-old girl should do and just enjoying being in the presence of her little sister and her family was good.”

Specialist child interviewers have travelled to Carnarvon and their work with Cleo will “take as long as it takes”, said Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde, who is leading the investigation.

“We’ll sit down with the family and work out the appropriate time,” he said, adding: “The main concern around that is Cleo’s welfare.”

Officers collected CCTV footage for almost 600 miles near the camp site, picked up rubbish along roads, and secured “hundreds of thousands of lines” of mobile phone data, said Western Australia Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch.

“We were looking for a needle in a data haystack,” he told the BBC.

Police Minister Paul Papalia said Cleo’s discovery was down to “hard police grind” rather than a “random tip or a clairvoyant or any of the sort of things that you might hear”.

In Carnarvon, signs welcomed Cleo home and balloons were raised on buildings.

In the state capital of Perth, 560 miles to the south, public buildings were illuminated with blue lights to celebrate her rescue.

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