Missing toddler Cleo Smith would have been found by now if she had wandered away from her family’s campsite and was likely abducted, a criminologist claims.
Xanthe Mallett, who appeared on Australian true crime TV program Wanted and the BBC series History Cold Case, said it was unlikely the four-year-old girl wandered so far from the campsite that she hadn’t been found as yet.
‘You’ve got to think, four days later, it’s unlikely that a child has wandered far enough that she has simply wandered off into the bush and hasn’t been found,’ she told Sunrise.
‘This is inhospitable terrain we are talking about. They initially did a search 5km around the area, and she was not found.
‘Now you have to be thinking possibly she has been taken.
‘You’ve got to think, four days later, it’s unlikely that a child has wandered far enough that she has simply wandered off into the bush and hasn’t been found,’ criminologist Dr Xanthe Mallett told Sunrise
Cleo Smith (left) with her mother Ellie, her partner Jake Gliddon and her baby sister Isla (right)
‘Obviously everyone is hoping for a positive outcome that she will be found in that location but look, the weather has turned bad and so every day that passes things are getting more desperate.’
The University of Newcastle expert also said she found it ‘quite strange’ that Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her stepfather Jake Gliddon were not woken by any movement by the little girl during the night.
‘You would think at night if a sleeping bag is moved and the child is moving around, that may have woken the parents,’ she said.
‘But they may be very heavy sleepers, we just don’t know.
‘Somehow that tent has opened and that child has vanished with the sleeping bag, which is strange as well. You wouldn’t expect a four-year-old to take the sleeping bag with them.’
There has been no suggestion Cleo’s mother or stepfather are in any way responsible for the little girl’s disappearance.
A number of touching new photos of Cleo (left) with her family, including mother Ellie (centre) and baby sister Isla (right) have emerged showing a cuddly, affectionate little girl
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith revealed yesterday that Cleo had been sleeping in a separate area of the tent, with her baby sister Isla just metres away
Sunrise host Natalie Barr said Cleo’s disappearance revived memories of the Chamberlain case when nine-week-old baby Azaria went missing from the family’s tent near Uluru in 1980.
‘They are looking at every possible avenue. It has been four days, so they are putting a callout nationally now, saying, ‘Has anyone seen this little girl?’ Dr Mallett said.
‘She could be anywhere.’
Touching new photos of Cleo with her family show a cuddly, affectionate little girl with her mother, baby sister and her mother’s partner.
The four-year-old vanished from the Blowholes campground near Carnarvon, on WA’s remote northwest coast, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Cleo was wearing a pink one-piece sleepsuit and her red and black sleeping bag was also discovered missing.
The four-year-old vanished from the Blowholes campground near Carnarvon, on WA’s remote northwest coast, in the early hours of Saturday morning
Cleo with her mother Ellie – the little girl has now been missing for five days with WA Police now focusing their efforts on investigating a ‘worst case scenario’ of abduction
Ellie Smith revealed yesterday that Cleo had been sleeping in a separate area of the tent, with her baby sister Isla just metres away.
‘As we passed the [tent] divider, I went into the other room and the zipper was open,’ she said. ‘She was gone. The tent was completely open.’
Police are focusing their efforts on investigating the ‘worst case scenario’ that little Cleo was abducted from the tent while her family slept, with a complex criminal investigation underway.
WA Police Inspector Jon Munday said Cleo could ‘potentially be anywhere now’ given five days have passed since she was last seen.
‘We can’t rule out the fact that Cleo may be still in the area, we can’t rule out the fact she’s left the area and if she’s left the area that is probably is our worse case scenario because that really paints a sinister picture with what’s happened.
‘It is a race against time. We’re just trying to find answers.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact police immediately on 131 444.