Online trolls saying the most ‘horrible and shocking things’ about the parents of missing girl Cleo Smith have been urged to ‘go back to a sense of decency’.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has hit out at online trolls who have accused Cleo Smith’s parents of being involved in the four-year-old girl’s disappearance despite police repeatedly saying they are not suspects.
Police suspect Cleo was abducted from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in WA’s north, on October 16.
Mr McGowan, who along with his young family has recently copped threats from anti-vaxxers over his Covid-19 vaccine mandate, said he could sympathise with Cleo’s parents after they were subjected to abuse online.
“They’re going through a huge amount of angst and pain and suffering — they don’t need this,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“I just don’t get why some people get all this courage when they get a keyboard, and they say the most horrible and shocking things that they would never say otherwise.
“I just urge them to stop. This social media world where people are just emboldened to say shocking and horrible things is awful.
“I just urge people to go back to a sense of decency and civility towards one another, particularly (towards) people who are suffering.”
Police have repeatedly said Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and biological father Daniel Staines are not suspects in the case.
When asked about the online trolls on Friday, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said it was terrible.
“They (the parents) have been very helpful. We’re doing everything we can to find out what happened to Cleo,” he told reporters.
“They’re holding up, but I just ask all members of the public, it’s not helpful for anyone to publish anything online.”
Cleo was last seen about 1.30am on that fateful day when she woke to ask for water.
About 6am, when Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon woke up, they discovered Cleo and her sleeping bag were missing, prompting a large scale search.
After authorities and volunteers found no trace of Cleo, police said she was likely abducted, revealing a tent zip was opened to a height the young girl could not have reached.
A desperate nationwide search for Cleo has so far resulted in no suspects, despite police looking into known paedophiles in the area and exploring other avenues of investigation.
Police have also repeatedly searched the family home, collected CCTV and dashcam footage, spoken to campers in the area and made repeated public appeals for information.
Detectives have also been keen to find the driver of a vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.
Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.
Superintendent Wilde previously revealed there had been more than 200 possible sightings of Cleo reported to police since she vanished but all had proved “unfruitful”.
A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves the girl’s mystery disappearance.
A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $86,000.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.