Premier Mark McGowan has lashed out at online trolls who have accused the parents of Cleo Smith of being involved in the four-year-old’s disappearance.
Mr McGowan this morning said Cleo’s parents were going through a huge amount of angst, pain and suffering and did not need the added stress.
It comes as the police officer leading the investigation, Dept-Supt Rod Wilde, said Cleo’s mother Ellie and stepdad Jake were not suspects and had been cooperating with police.
The case is being treated as a suspected abduction, with the child nowhere near the Quobba Blowholes camp site — where she went missing two weeks ago.
Camera IconMissing girl Cleo Smith, 4. Credit: Facebook / Ellie Smith/Facebook / Ellie Smith
Mr McGowan said he did not understand how people got added courage hiding behind a keyboard.
“They say the most horrible and shocking things that they’d never say otherwise,” Mr McGowan said.
“I just urge them to stop.
“This social media world where people just say shocking and horrible things is awful.”
Camera IconEllie Smith. Credit: FLASHPOINT/FLASHPOINT
Mr McGowan said people needed to go back to a sense of decency and civility towards one another — particularly those who were suffering.
Supt Wilde said Cleo’s parents were “holding up” despite the online attacks.
“They (Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon) have been copping some very disgusting behaviour online and comments and everything else like that,” Supt Wilde said.
“We want to make it clear — they are not suspects in this investigation. They have been helping us.”
“We are in touch with them on a daily basis, keeping them updated and doing whatever we can to help them. But it is a terrible situation no one wants to be in.”
Cleo’s biological father Daniel Staines is also not a suspect.
He was at home in Mandurah at the time of Cleo’s disappearance.
“He has not had anything to do with young Cleo since she was born and he was nowhere near the area,” Supt Wilde said.
Camera IconJake Gliddon, step father of Cleo Smith, returns to the family home to open the gate and let police forensics and detectives into the home. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian
It comes after the Premier copped a wild string of abuse — including death threats — from anti-vaxxers online.
Those furious over the latest COVID jab mandates for 75 per cent of WA’s workforce even got hold of Mr McGowan’s private number and filled up his entire voicemail.
When asked if he had sympathy for Cleo’s parents based on the hate he’d received, he said: “I do”.
“All this conduct by these people, it’s not going to change the Government’s result,” he said.
“In fact it’s hardening our result, we’re more determined to put in place measures to get people vaccinated and the more these people put out lies and yell and threaten and intimidate, the more we’re going to put in place measures to require people to get vaccinated.
“So I just urge them to stop.”
The Fort News