Cleo Smith: Accused kidnapper ‘claimed he had a daughter’ in doll-filled bedroom in WA


A tradie who worked on the house where Cleo Smith was allegedly held by a kidnapper has told investigators the loner had a room decorated for a little girl, and had falsely claimed he had a young daughter. 

The man who was hired to paint the Carnarvon, WA, public housing commission duplex which Terence Darrell Kelly rented was interviewed by police in the days following his arrest and told them he had seen a room adorned with doll-lined shelves. 

A door to one of the rooms in the house which can allegedly be locked from the outside is also of particular interest to detectives, reports The Australian, with WA’s housing department having a policy to not install locks on internal doors for safety reasons.

Cleo went missing from the Quobba Blowholes campground in mid-October, sparking a massive police search which ended 18 days later when she was found alive and well in a raid just minutes away from her parents’ house. 

Terence Darrell Kelly (pictured on November 5) boards a plane after being taken into custody by members of the Special Operations Group at Carnarvon airport

Four-year-old Cleo Smith (pictured) is now recovering with her family after being missing for 18 days

Four-year-old Cleo Smith (pictured) is now recovering with her family after being missing for 18 days

The 36-year-old alleged abductor’s fixation with dolls has been brought to light following his arrest, with forensic police seen removing several large evidence bags believed to be filled with dolls from the rundown house in recent days. 

A leading theory put forward by investigators is that the abduction was not pre-meditated but that Kelly had allegedly been at the Quobba Blowholes campground and stumbled across little Cleo.  

While he was known to police for petty crimes he was not on the sex offender list and was not immediately focused on as a suspect. 

Terence Kelly's duplex in Carnarvon, Western Australia, was swarming with forensic police on Saturday

Terence Kelly’s duplex in Carnarvon, Western Australia, was swarming with forensic police on Saturday 

Bizarre details have emerged about the accused's strange obsession with toys as numerous social media accounts linked to Kelly show a room full of children's dolls (pictured)

Bizarre details have emerged about the accused’s strange obsession with toys as numerous social media accounts linked to Kelly show a room full of children’s dolls (pictured) 

However, information given to police by telecommunications operators allegedly showed a phone registered to him pinged off the Point Quobba phone tower nearby the campground at 3am, just three hours before Cleo’s parents woke up to find her missing from her tent.

The crucial piece of information led police to investigate Kelly further with detectives understood to have quickly uncovered more links between between him and the alleged abduction – though they have not revealed what these are. 

Forensic investigators are expected to continue their work at the derelict house until at least Wednesday, having already removed a significant amount of evidence including carpets from multiple rooms. 

Bags of evidence were removed, believed to contain contain some of Kelly's beloved Bratz dolls

Bags of evidence were removed, believed to contain contain some of Kelly’s beloved Bratz dolls

Remarkable bodycam footage captured the moment Cleo was rescued by detectives, with the brave little girl clinging to her savior as she is gently spoken to and told she would soon see her 'mummy'

Remarkable bodycam footage captured the moment Cleo was rescued by detectives, with the brave little girl clinging to her savior as she is gently spoken to and told she would soon see her ‘mummy’

The dilapidated house where Cleo was found was is in an area of Carnarvon which locals have said has become increasingly unruly in recent years. 

Both Carnarvon council and police records show a major riot broke out in and around Tonkin Crescent, home to the accused kidnapper, late Friday night on October 16, 2020.

That date is exactly one year to the day before Cleo Smith was allegedly snatched from her tent at the Quobba Blowholes.

The street – nicknamed ‘Toxic Crescent’ in the coastal town – was the centre of violent riots which left several officers injured, residents told Daily Mail Australia. 

Last year’s riots re-emerged as a large team of forensic officers scoured Kelly’s home on Saturday afternoon, with dozens of dolls believed to be among the piles of evidence seen being removed from the derelict property.

Forensic teams are seen leaving the Carnarvon house on Saturday as they continue to scour the scene (pictured)

Forensic teams are seen leaving the Carnarvon house on Saturday as they continue to scour the scene (pictured)

Kelly, 36, allegedly held four-year-old Cleo Smith inside the derelict home for 18 days after she was taken from her family's tent

Kelly, 36, allegedly held four-year-old Cleo Smith inside the derelict home for 18 days after she was taken from her family’s tent 

Police officers bundle evidence wrapped in white plastic into a trailer after combing the property on Saturday

Police officers bundle evidence wrapped in white plastic into a trailer after combing the property on Saturday

Cleo Smith, four, was found alive and well, 18 days after she vanished from her family's tent at the remote Blowholes campsite in north-west Western Australia

Cleo Smith, four, was found alive and well, 18 days after she vanished from her family’s tent at the remote Blowholes campsite in north-west Western Australia 

Forensic officers – who also were seen inspecting a bedframe and holding a box filled with coloured pens – may take as long as two months to fully search the home, The Sunday Times reported.   

Locals claimed the riots last year led to ‘many arrests’ and ultimately saw police withdrawing from the site for their own safety.

One Carnarvon resident, who asked not to be named, said the riot was ‘a big deal’ at the time amid concern the the area was becoming a hub for drugs, alcohol and violence.

In the days following the riots, local Senior Sergeant Jayd Morawski addressed Carnarvon council and described chaotic scenes as large groups – fuelled by excessive alcohol use – attacked police officers.

He said the worst hit areas were Shallcross Street, Crossland Street/Hubble Street and Mills and Tonkin Crescent – the latter being where Cleo was miraculously found alive early on Wednesday following her 18-day ordeal.

Crisis talks were then held between local police and councillors about the town’s drug and alcohol problems and how to solve them ‘immediately’.

According to council meeting notes, local Nationals member Vince Catania said he would raise the issue at an upcoming parliament sitting. 

A year on and Catania said this week that Kelly’s neighbourhood – a housing commission precinct – had been left to fall into ‘rack and ruin’ and that little had improved since the violent incident a year ago.

Littered with broken glass and rubbish, the street and neighbouring David Brand Drive is also nicknamed by Carnarvon locals as ‘ground zero’ and was dubbed ‘scorched earth’ by some of the media covering Cleo’s abduction.

Small children can often be seen wandering the area alone, with dog attacks and break-ins ‘common’ according to residents.

One business owner, who has resided in the area for seven years, said Cleo’s alleged abduction came at a time when the town was slipping down a slope of ‘rampant’ crime and social disturbance.

Residents claim the area has become a hub for drugs, alcohol and violence. Police officers are pictured at Kelly's home on Saturday

Residents claim the area has become a hub for drugs, alcohol and violence. Police officers are pictured at Kelly’s home on Saturday

Forensic officers were seen in the backyard of Kelly's property on Saturday as they searched through piles of evidence

Forensic officers were seen in the backyard of Kelly’s property on Saturday as they searched through piles of evidence 

Neighbours claim riots on his street led to 'many arrests' and ultimately saw police withdrawing from the site for their own safety

Neighbours claim riots on his street led to ‘many arrests’ and ultimately saw police withdrawing from the site for their own safety 

Police records confirm the street was the site was one of Carnarvon’s most violent riots exactly a year before her disappearance

Terence Kelly is now on remand in Casuarina, which is widely regarded as the toughest prison in Western Australia

Terence Kelly is now on remand in Casuarina, which is widely regarded as the toughest prison in Western Australia

‘We left Carnarvon and got stuck in Thailand due to Covid but when we returned we were shocked at how bad things had become,’ said shop-owner Denam French who described the area around Kelly’s Tonkin Crescent home as a ‘well-known no-go area’.

‘It’s an area that even taxis stopped driving to some time ago,’ he said.

‘You just don’t drive anywhere near there.

‘If you do you can have your car pelted with rocks or bottles.

‘It’s just a part of town that is generally avoided.’ 

Forensic experts will remain at Kelly’s duplex home for several more days as they search for evidence that can be used against him before his next court appearance in December.

A police officer in full protective gear is seen at the Carnarvon home where Cleo was found

A police officer in full protective gear is seen at the Carnarvon home where Cleo was found

The large team of experts are believed to have been brought in from Perth and Carnarvon’s surrounding areas earlier in the week.

Tonkin Crescent’s dark history was revealed as it emerged detectives used mobile data to track down Cleo’s alleged abductor

Sources close to the investigation claim the mobile phone data was crucial in helping police to identify Kelly as a prime suspect. 

‘His phone was allegedly in the area as part of the data collection,’ a source told The West Australian. ‘That is part of the information that led the taskforce to him.’

There are at least three new mobile base stations located not far from the remote campsite where Cleo vanished from at Quobba Point, 73km north of Carnarvon, on October 16.

Telecommunication providers then gave police a list of phone numbers that had been used in the area during the times of interest. 

A forensic team is pictured standing in front of a Mazda vehicle outside the rundown home

A forensic team is pictured standing in front of a Mazda vehicle outside the rundown home

Detective superintendent Rod Wilde said the data was then layered with other information before Kelly became a person of interest.

‘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.’

Police tailed Kelly in an unmarked police car at 11.24pm on Tuesday – just hours before they raided his housing commission home at Carnarvon at 1am on Wednesday. 

Detective senior sergeant Cameron Blaine said officers had been waiting for Kelly to ‘go mobile and leave the premises’.

‘It was clear in my head what had to occur so it was: ‘OK, let’s do that’.’ 

Dashcam footage from a passing taxi captured the moment Kelly was pulled over by the unmarked police vehicle as he drove down Robinson Street.

Police tailed Kelly in an unmarked car at 11.24pm on Tuesday - just hours before they raided his housing commission home at Carnarvon at 1am on Wednesday

Police tailed Kelly in an unmarked car at 11.24pm on Tuesday – just hours before they raided his housing commission home at Carnarvon at 1am on Wednesday

A second unmarked police vehicle pulls up in front of the parked car to prevent any chance of escape.

A bystander recalled watching police then pin Kelly to the ground before arresting him.

‘We saw one of the detectives on top of the guy pinning him down on the curb … you know really vigorously,’ they said.

With their prime suspect now in handcuffs, detectives made the decision to search his housing commission home at 12.46am on Wednesday.  

Detectives then allegedly found Cleo playing with toys in one of the rooms which had been locked.

‘I just saw a little girl sitting there and didn’t think about anything else than picking her up,’ detective senior constable Kurt Ford said. 

It will be a day WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson will never forget as he recalled new details of the rescue to the state’s 7,200 officers in internal weekly publication From The Line.

Cleo Smith was pictured in her mum Ellie's arms outside her Carnarvon home on Thursday, 24 hours after her incredible rescue

Cleo Smith was pictured in her mum Ellie’s arms outside her Carnarvon home on Thursday, 24 hours after her incredible rescue

Stepfather Jake Gliddon (pictured on Thursday), Cleo and Ellie spent their first night together sleeping in the same room as the four-year-old who they didn't want to let out of their sights

Stepfather Jake Gliddon (pictured on Thursday), Cleo and Ellie spent their first night together sleeping in the same room as the four-year-old who they didn’t want to let out of their sights

‘It was a day that will go down in history as one of the greatest triumphs for WA Police Force. For many officers, it will be the greatest day of their careers,’ Commissioner Dawson said.

‘My heart has been bursting with pride since I first received a phone call from Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch advising of Cleo’s rescue shortly before 1am.

‘Today, I want that pride to fill the hearts of all employees of this great agency.’

The commissioner met Cleo along with her mum Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and her grandparents at the family home just hours after the little girl was rescued.

‘As Cleo and her mum were exchanging kisses and hugs she fell asleep in Ellie’s arms,’ he recalled.

‘None of us will forget that day. It’s why we join the police force.

‘From the bottom of my heart – which is so very swollen with pride – thank you to all… Enjoy this moment in history and let it carry you forward in service of our community.’ 

He also sent an photo of Cleo smiling and waving in hospital to WA Premier Mark McGowan, who described the little girl as well adjusted, sweet and delightful during his visit to the family home on Thursday.

Commissioner Dawson also recalled the heart-melting moment he first heard the audio of the little girl’s rescue and the first words she uttered, telling officers: ‘My name is Cleo’.

‘In policing, we frequently see the worst of society and the circumstances surrounding Cleo’s abduction certainly fit that bill,’ he said.

‘But on occasion…we also have the great privilege of having a front row seat to witness the very best of humanity and the rescue of Cleo is one of those moments.

‘It should be treasured.’   

Kelly, who is not known to the family but lives just minutes away, was charged with multiple offences on Thursday night, including Cleo’s kidnapping. 

A beaming Cleo is seen from her hospital bed after she was rescued by police on Wednesday

A beaming Cleo is seen from her hospital bed after she was rescued by police on Wednesday

He appeared in Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon, where he was formally refused bail.

Police have warned Cleo’s parents to wait until specialist child abuse detectives formally interview the four-year-old before talking about the traumatic events with her. 

A heart-warming audio clip of the moment detectives first found Cleo alone in a room playing with toys was also heard for the first time on Thursday. 

Sergeant Blaine can be heard asking the little girl ‘what is your name?’ three times before she finally falteringly replied: ‘M-my name is Cleo.’

He said police have tried to share as much information they can with the parents but at this stage investigators are still piecing all the details together themselves. 

Terry Kelly, 36, was taken away from Carnarvon police station, in Western Australia, after sustaining head injuries

Terry Kelly, 36, was taken away from Carnarvon police station, in Western Australia, after sustaining head injuries

CLEO DISAPPEARANCE TIMELINE

 By Olivia Day for Daily Mail Australia

Friday, October 15

Cleo along with her mother Ellie Smith, her partner Jake Gliddon and her little sister Isla Mae arrive at the Blowholes campsite around 6:30pm.

They had a ‘quiet’ night and arrived at sunset.

Saturday, October 16

1:30am: Parents’ last sighting of Cleo in the tent she shared with her parents and baby sister when the four-year-old asks for some water.

6.23am: Ellie calls 000 to report her eldest daughter missing as she continues to search the camp ground.

6.30am: The first two officers are dispatched from Carnarvon police station. They travel to Blowholes as a matter of priority, with sirens and lights.

6.41am: A second police car with another two officers is sent to Blowholes, also with lights and sirens.

7.10am: The first police car arrives. The second is only minutes behind.

7.26am: Police on the scene establish a protected forensic area which is taped off to the public, surrounding the family tent where Cleo was last seen.

7.33am: A drone operator is called upon to search from the skies.

7.44am: A third police car is dispatched to the Blowholes.

8am: Family and friends of Cleo’s parents begin to arrive to help with the ground search.

Another group of detectives briefly searches Cleo’s home to make sure she’s not there.

They then head to Blowholes and begin stopping cars coming into and leaving the area.

8.09am: A helicopter from a local company arrived at the scene and started searching as police request an SES team attend the Blowholes search.

8.24am: Police air-wing and volunteer marine searchers are called in to assist with the search.

8.34am: Roadblocks are set up at the entrance of Blowholes as detectives gather the names, registration details and addresses of people coming and going. Police search cars.

9.25am: Nine SES personel arrive at the Blowholes to assist with the search.

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

9.30am: Detectives sit down with a distressed Ellie and remain by her side for the rest of the day while other search crews hunt for Cleo.

11am: Homicide detectives from the Major Crime Division are called and begin travelling from Perth to assist with the search.

1pm: More homicide detectives and search experts are flown in from Perth.

3pm: Officers and search experts arrive in Carnarvon to offer their expertise.

Sunday, October 17

Ms Smith takes to social media to plead for help finding her missing daughter.

A Facebook post uploaded at 1:45am on Sunday which said: ‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last seen the sparkle in my little girl’s eyes.

‘Please help me find her!

‘If you hear or see anything at all please call the police!’

Police suggest Cleo may have been abducted.

Monday, October 18

Police release an image of the red and grey sleeping bag missing from Cleo’s tent.

Cleo’s biological father is interviewed by police in Mandurah and is asked to provide a statement, which he does so willingly.

WA Police with the help of SES members, volunteers and aircraft continue the land hunt for Cleo, with officers searching nearby shacks and vehicles in the area.

Tuesday, October 19

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon front the media for the first time and describe the terrifying moment they realised the little girl was missing.

Ms Smith says her four-year-old would never have left the tent by herself.

Police release new images of Cleo and the pink and blue one-piece she was wearing the night she went missing to aid the investigation.

Investigators urge anyone who was at the campsite or in the vicinity on October 15 to get in contact with police. 

Wednesday, October 20

Police reveal the zip of the family tent, which was found hanging wide open by her mother at 6am on Saturday morning, was too high for Cleo to reach.

Officers say they ‘haven’t ruled out’ reports from campers who heard the sound of screeching tyres in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Deputy Police Commissioner Daryl Gaunt confirms officers are investigating the whereabouts of 20 registered sex offenders in the Carnarvon area.

Thursday, October 21

The WA Government offers a $1million reward for information that leads to Cleo’s location announced by WA Premier Mark McGowan.

‘All Western Australians’ thoughts are with Cleo’s family during what is an unimaginably difficult time,’ Mr McGowan said.

‘We’re all praying for a positive outcome.’

The speed of the reward being issued – within days of her disappearance – was unprecedented.

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA 

Monday, October 25

WA Police confirm Cleo was definitely at the camp site – on CCTV footage on a camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from the family tent she disappeared from. 

Tuesday, October 26

Forensic officers and detectives spent much of the day at her home in Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, on Tuesday and left with two bags of evidence.

Although investigators had been to the home before, this was the first time they thoroughly searched inside with a forensics team.

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the search of the family home was ‘standard practice’ and did not indicate they were suspects in Cleo’s disappearance.

Wednesday, October 27

WA Police forensics officers return to the Blowholes campground and are seen collecting soil samples from a number of campfires near shacks in the area.

The federal government announce Australian Federal Police officers had been drafted in to support forensic and intelligence efforts.

Friday, October 29

Police return to the Blowholes camp to analyse the area with drones.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde returns to the Blowholes campsite to join the search for Cleo as the search hit the two-week mark.

He confirms national and international agencies are engaged in the search for Cleo.

Sunday, October 31

Detectives go door-knocking at a number of homes along the North West Coastal Highway in the North Plantations, 5km from Cleo’s hometown on Sunday.

Monday, November 1

Detectives sort through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite she vanished from.

The material was transported to Perth, where forensic officers and recruits sorted through hundreds of bags in search of items that may have helped them find Cleo.

Officers issue a plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the four-year-old disappeared.

Police renew an appeal for more businesses in Carnarvon to provide footage and go door to door in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram 

Wednesday, November 3

After two-and-a-half weeks of searching Cleo Smith is found alive and well in the early hours of November 3.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEST that little Cleo is alive and well and had been reunited with her relieved parents.

‘One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ he said. ‘She said: ‘My name is Cleo’.’

Ellie Smith posted to social media: ‘Our family is whole again’.

A Carnarvon man is currently in custody and being questioned by detectives.

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information 'big or small'

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information ‘big or small’

‘We share with them what information we can. They know what they need to know,’ Senior Sergeant Blaine said.

‘Obviously it’s still a time where we’re exploring all the facts. We’re getting information from, still, a number of different sources. Some of that information is completely wrong.

‘So we’re careful about what information we share with people, we want to make sure we’re 100 per cent sure of the facts.’  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk