The major clue that cracked the Cleo Smith case

·2-min read

New details have emerged about the investigation that led to the miraculous rescue of Cleo Smith after her alleged abductor spent his first night behind bars in Perth. 

Earlier this week, police revealed phone data played an important role in tracking and identifying the accused Terrence Darrel Kelly, but remained tight-lipped about what exactly led them to the four-year-old's location.

Sources familiar with the investigation have now revealed the key information to the West Australian.

“His phone was allegedly in the area as part of the data collection,” sources said.

“That is part of the information that led the taskforce to him." 

Cleo Smith is carried inside a friend's house by her mother on Thursday.
Cleo Smith is carried inside a friend's house by her mum. Source: Getty Images

It comes after Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde, who headed the investigation, told reporters on Thursday that various forms of data assisted investigators. 

“Police solve crimes through what I say is data overlays,” he said. 

“So we put the phone data over numberplate-recognition data, CCTV, witness accounts, forensics . . . and when you layer them on top of each other you solve crimes and that is merely what we have done here.”

He insisted the breakthrough wasn’t achieved by one crucial piece of evidence alone, but rather the result of the “hard work” that went into gathering and analysing huge amounts of information — a tiresome task he compared to “finding a needle in a haystack”. 

Terence Darrell Kelly boards a plane after being taken into custody.
Terence Darrell Kelly boards a plane after being taken into custody by members of the Special Operations Group at Carnarvon airport on Friday. Source: Getty Images

Alleged abductor under close watch

The four-year-old was found alive and well early on Wednesday — 18 days after she disappeared from her family's tent at the remote Blowholes campsite.

She was discovered in a property alive and well just minutes from her family home in Carnarvon, about 75km south of the campsite.

Dramatic body-cam footage shows the moment police forced entry to the home and found Cleo alone in a room, physically unharmed and playing with toys.

Kelly was arrested on a nearby street around the same time.

Specialists are continuing the delicate task of interviewing Cleo as her alleged abductor is held in a maximum-security prison.

Kelly was shackled and accompanied by armed riot squad guards on a charter flight from Carnarvon to Perth on Friday.

Extra security was put in place after Kelly was twice hospitalised with self-inflicted injuries while in custody in the small coastal town almost 1000km north of Perth.

The 36-year-old has been charged with various offences including forcibly taking a child under 16.

His next court hearing in in December.

With AAP

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