Cleo Smith’s mother has opened up about her daughter’s 18-day kidnapping ordeal, revealing the four-year-old’s first words when she was reunited with her family.
Cleo disappeared from her family tent at the Blowholes campsite in Macleod, north of Carnarvon, on October 16. Nearly three weeks later, police found the little girl alive in a locked house in Carnarvon around 1am, November 3.
In a preview for the family’s upcoming tell-all interview on Sunday night with 60 Minutes, Ellie Smith and her partner, Cleo’s step-father Jake Gliddon, discuss how upbeat the four-year-old was despite her ordeal, and recalled Cleo’s first words upon their reunion.
“She said, ‘Hi Mummy!’” Ellie says. Cleo’s mother then matched her daughter’s excitement with the enthusiastic reply, “hi baby!”
In a follow-up clip, the mother-of-two tearfully tells 60 Minutes, “Someone had my baby. I had to hope she was close to me, but she wasn’t.”
Cleo’s parents reportedly signed a $2 million deal with the Nine network for the exclusive tell-all interview. The staggering amount is believed to be one of the largest deals in Australian media history, and the interview is set to feature in several media outlets, including 60 Minutes and a number of newspapers. It is not known if Cleo herself will appear in the interview.
Nine’s director of news and current affairs, Darren Wick, said the network is “honoured” that Cleo Smith’s family chose to share their story with the Nine network. “From a 60 Minutes story to other opportunities across Nine, we will continue to support Cleo and her family as they go through the court process, and we take our legal obligations around reporting on Cleo’s story extremely seriously,” he said.
News of Cleo’s disappearance and eventual discovery by hardworking police gripped the globe’s attention.
Upon her rescue, deputy police commissioner Col Blanch confirmed in a statement that Cleo was found “alive and well”. “It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” he said. “This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for.”
A Western Australian man was later charged in relation to the alleged abduction of Cleo on November 4, 2021. The charges included one count of forcibly taking a child under 16. On January 24, the man pleaded guilty to the charges, and he will be sentenced on March 25.