How police made the tough call to break in to the run down house where they were told Cleo Smith was being held with NO IDEA what was behind the locked door
- Cops working Cleo Smith case got a tip that led to her location on Tuesday night
- A house was identified, but police were not certain she was even in there
- They had no idea what awaited them on the other side of the door or if it was safe
- Decided to break in at 12.46am, found Cleo there alone and took her to hospital
As police prepared to rescue missing girl Cleo Smith from a run down public housing home, they had no idea what was waiting for them inside.
Weeks of investigation failed to track her down since she was abducted from a remote camping ground on October 16, until a tip-off on Tuesday night.
Detectives had just hours to make a tough call on whether to go in blind, or leave Cleo, 4, there another night while they gathered more information.
They couldn’t even be sure Cleo was actually in the house in Carnarvon in northwest Western Australia, or if any other children were held captive there.
Four-year-old Cleo Smith has an iced lolly in hospital after being rescued from a house in Carnarvon, Western Australia
About midnight they pulled over Terry Kelly, 36, who lived at the home on Tonkin Street in Brockman and arrested him on suspicion of kidnapping Cleo.
But police still didn’t know what awaited them on the other side of the door, usually guarded by Kelly’s dog.
Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson got a late night briefing on the situation from officers on the ground.
‘They really did not know what they were going to encounter,’ he said.
At 12.46am on Wednesday, police decided to risk breaking into the locked house and four officers with crowbars and a battering ram stormed inside.
Fortunately they found the house empty except for Cleo, who was playing with toys in a bedroom and appeared physically unharmed.
Western Australian Police Force bodycam footage shows four-year-old Cleo Smith being rescued in Carnarvon, Western Australia
Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine speaking during a press conference in Canarvon, Western Australia. He was one of four officers who broke into the house where kidnapped four-year-old Cleo Smith was being held
Commissioner Dawson said the tip, containing ‘really important information about a car’, was critical to the decision to strike.
‘I can say that the information about a car was really important,’ he told Perth radio station 6PR on Wednesday.
‘Yes we had a number of people we were very very interested in, but late [Tuesday] and in the early hours of [Wednesday] morning we got a breakthrough.
‘We got a strong lead and [the taskforce officers] briefed me on it and said “we’re going to have to get into this house”.’
When they did get in and found the little girl, they had to make absolutely sure it was Cleo.
‘It certainly looked like Cleo,’ said Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine, one of the four officers who broke into the house.
Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson speaking during a press conference in Canarvon. He made a fateful call before missing child Cleo Smith was rescued
‘I wanted to be absolutely sure it was her, so I said “what’s your name?” and she didn’t answer, so I asked her again, “what’s your name?” and she didn’t answer again,’ said Mr Blaine, who is a father himself.
‘So I asked her a third time and she looked at me and said: “My name is Cleo”.’
Bodycam footage showed Cleo clinging to an officer as Mr Blaine asked her if she was OK, telling she was going to be taken to see ‘mummy and daddy’.
After reuniting with her daughter at the local hospital, Ellie Smith posted on Instagram a photo of Cleo with the words: ‘Our family is whole again’ alongside a red heart.