‘Heartbreaking’: New Cleo Smith interview
The parents of Cleo Smith, the little girl snatched from her family’s tent, have revealed startling details about the terrifying ordeal.
Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon have given their first interview since the sentencing of Terence Kelly, the man who confessed to stealing then four-year-old Cleo in October 2021.
The little girl was found 18 days later at Kelly’s home in the West Australian Pilbara coast town of Carnarvon, just kilometres from Cleo’s family home.
Kelly, 37, was in April sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison.
In a preview of the interview, which will air on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, the parents speak about how little has been coping.
“(Cleo’s) nightmare nights are the worst nights, it’s just heartbreaking,” referring to Cleo’s ongoing nightmares since her kidnapping ordeal,” Ms Smith says.
“It is hard talking about (Terence Kelly) and what happened,” said Ms Smith, who, along with Mr Gliddon, was present in the WA District Court when Kelly was sentenced.
The segment will feature police bodycam footage from the hours immediately after Cleo’s abduction at a remote campsite north of Carnarvon.
In the footage Ms Smith appears distressed as she tells officers her daughter is missing.
WA Police Minister Paul Papalia has also been interviewed for the piece.
It’s the second interview Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon have had with 60 Minutes; they were paid $2million for an interview with Brown in February 2022, about three months after Cleo was rescued.
The couple refused to speak to media outside court following Kelly’s sentencing.
The segment comes just days after Kelly’s legal defence lodged an appeal against his sentence in the WA Court of Appeals.
Cleo’s disappearance made national headlines as police desperately searched for the little girl around the clock.
The then four-year-old was visiting the Point Quobba Blowholes Campground with her mother, stepfather and baby sister for their first family camping trip before being taken.
On the first night of the trip Kelly, who had been using methamphetamine, unzipped the wall of Cleo’s tent between 2:40am and 4:40am intending to steal valuables.
He then made the frightening decision to make off with the little girl instead.
Her mother discovered that Cleo was gone at about 6am, when she immediately dialled triple-zero after a frantic but unfruitful search of the campsite.
As the days went on in the search for the little girl, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a $1m reward for any information relating to her disappearance.
Kelly’s sentencing hearing revealed details about what Cleo was subjected to while she was captive in the home.
Cleo was allowed to wander around the house while Kelly was home, otherwise she was locked in a bedroom while her captor went about his usual business in the local community.
When Cleo cried and begged to be returned to her parents, Kelly would turn up the radio to drown out the girl and hide her presence from neighbours.
On occasion, Kelly would get angry with her and “smack her” or “rough her up”.
During the 18-day ordeal, no one else visited Kelly’s home.
After weeks of police work, detectives were able to track Cleo to Kelly‘s home following a tip-off.
They broke down the locked door in the early morning police raid to find her playing with toys.
The raid was videoed by officers involved, with the moment Cleo is rescued caught on tape.
“What’s your name?” Sergeant Blaine asks the girl three times before he gets the answer: “My … my name is Cleo.”
In the wake of her rescue, her parents said they appreciated the “love ad for their family amid the 18-day roller coaster. “In particular, we would like to thank WA Police, all those involved in the initial search, the Carnarvon community, local businesses and of course our family and friends,” the family said in a statement after Cleo was rescued.
“We are humbled by the love and support that we have received from not only our local community but the whole of Western Australia and across the country.
“We are so thankful that our little girl is back within our arms and our family is whole again.”