Cleo Smith search: Mother warns of attempted abduction at Blowholes campsite in 2014

Headshot of Shannon Hampton
Shannon HamptonThe West Australian
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Alarm bells of an attempted abduction at the Blowholes campsite — where it is believed four-year-old Cleo Smith was snatched — were raised more than seven years ago.
Camera IconAlarm bells of an attempted abduction at the Blowholes campsite — where it is believed four-year-old Cleo Smith was snatched — were raised more than seven years ago.

Alarm bells of an attempted abduction at the Blowholes campsite — where it is believed four-year-old Cleo Smith was snatched — were raised more than seven years ago.

A social media post on a local Carnarvon chat page revealed a girl was approached by a “male aged in his late 40s with a beard” and who was driving a “small red car” at the popular coastal campground in July 2014.

The girl’s mother said she reported the incident to police at the time.

Alarm bells of an attempted abduction at the Blowholes campsite — where it is believed four-year-old Cleo Smith was snatched — were raised more than seven years ago.
Camera IconAlarm bells of an attempted abduction at the Blowholes campsite — where it is believed four-year-old Cleo Smith was snatched — were raised more than seven years ago. Credit: Facebook

“ATTENTION PLEASE BE AWARE...” the mother’s post started.

“The man asked her if she would get in the car and go for a drive.

“She said no and took off straight back to camp.

“Sorry I don’t have a better description as she was quite freaked out.

“The police have bn (sic) notified.

“Good time to remind our precious one (sic) of stranger danger.”

The post emerged as police assured Cleo’s disappearance was “highly unusual and incredibly rare”.

Cleo Smith.
Camera IconCleo Smith. Credit: Supplied

Cleo was sleeping in a tent she shared with her mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and baby sister Isla when she vanished on October 16.

She had woken about 1.30am and her mother gave her a sip of water and she went back to bed. When they woke about 6am, the tent’s zipper was open to a height the little girl would not be able to reach and she was gone. Her sleeping bag was also missing.

A 100-strong taskforce, codenamed Rodia, was established last week after Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed the likelihood Cleo had been taken against her will was becoming an increasingly likely scenario. A $1 million reward is on offer for information leading to find the four-year-old.

“Someone in our community knows what happened to Cleo,” he said. “Someone has the knowledge that can help and now there are a million reasons why you need to come forward.”

Police leave the family home of Cleo Smith carrying evidence bags.
Camera IconPolice leave the family home of Cleo Smith carrying evidence bags. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Forensic police have spent Tuesday and Wednesday scouring Cleo’s family home for clues. Mr Blanch said her parents are not suspects and that the search was part of a “thorough investigation” into her disappearance.

“The parents have been nothing but helpful,” he said. “We’ve worked very closely with them, they’ve let us into their home, they’ve let us into their cars, their phones, everything.

“Our job is to eliminate everyone that was at that campsite, and that is a systematic and thorough approach in doing so in any investigation.”

When the outside of the home was examined at the weekend, there were reports police were testing the theory Cleo was being stalked, however that has since been ruled out.

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