/ 19 October 2021

Little girl lost

Image source: WA Police
Image source: WA Police

Western Australian Police have not ruled out abduction and homicide investigators from Perth have been called to a holiday spot near Carnarvon (960km north of the capital) where 4yo Cleo Smith went missing in the early hours of Saturday. The Defence Force is assisting with the search around the Blowholes Shacks campsite in Macleod as the sea search was scaled back with authorities saying their focus was on land. “We feel very desperately for the family in this very unusual situation where we don’t know where Cleo is,” WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said yesterday.

Police say they are keeping an open mind. “We are not going to get blinkered or sort of assume that something has happened,” said Inspector Jon Munday. What authorities have said is Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith and partner Jake Gliddon put her to bed on Friday night, she was last seen at 1.30am on Saturday, but she was not there when the adults woke at 6.30am. Her sleeping bag is missing, police say, but they have not said if other items are also gone. And there are reports that some campers heard a car skidding its wheels as it took off from the area at about 3am – police have not publicly confirmed that either. With rain forecast in the area today, authorities are keen on a breakthrough. Deputy Premier Roger Cook yesterday said his thoughts were with Cleo’s family, who would be feeling “heartache and absolute agony”.

Let’s go across the border to the Top End where police have hailed as an “absolute miracle” the survival of friends Mahesh Patrick (14yo) and Shaun Emitja (21yo). They were missing for several days after their vehicle became bogged. They walked to find water in the wrong direction, backtracked, and then became separated. The alarm went off when they failed to return to the remote community of Hermannsburg, and a search ensued with Patrick found on Friday night and Emitja the following day. “They are extremely lucky to be alive – we all know how harsh it is out there,” said Acting Commander Kirsten Engels yesterday. And in case you needed reminding, if you get in trouble while travelling in our sunburnt country: “Stay with your car, we cannot stress that enough,” she said.

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