A man wrongly identified as the alleged kidnapper of four-year-old Cleo Smith was threatened with being speared and killed and sought protection from the police, sources close to the investigation told Daily Mail Australia.
Terrance Flowers calls himself Terry Kelly on social media – the same name shared by Cleo’s suspected abductor. However, the wrong man was widely pictured and shamed on social media following the girl’s rescue on Wednesday.
After being misidentified, Mr Flowers was bombarded with death threats, including that he would be speared in a traditional Aboriginal punishment, police sources said.
The misidentification came as Western Australia’s Police Commissioner Chris Dawson reportedly held an emergency meeting with 20 Aboriginal elders in Carnarvon to ask for their help in preventing recriminations in the community.
Police are concerned Indigenous locals are being targeted by racists over Cleo’s abduction, and also hold fears of recriminations amongst the community, a report said.
A Western Australia man got death threats, including that he would be speared, after being wrongly identified as a suspect in the kidnapping of Cleo Smith (pictured)
A man wrongly identified as the suspect in the Cleo Smith kidnapping case was bombarded with death threats, including that he would be speared, police sources said.
As social media festered with theories about the 36-year-old Indigenous man being held over Cleo’s kidnapping, The Australian reported Mr Dawson told the elders: ‘You are influencers in your community and you can talk to people who are more impressionable.’
‘You can be that voice of reason,’ he was reported as saying.
Asked about reports of community unrest on Thursday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said: ‘I believe some extra officers are in town, not necessarily for community unrest but there’s a lot of police officers from Carnarvon that have been tied up in this operation as well who are still assisting us.
‘So that puts a drain on local resources. With that they’ve come to town to assist the local police,’ he said.
Terry Kelly, a suspect in the kidnap of Cleo Smith in Western Australia, being taken to hospital
Mr Flowers was also wrongly identified as the suspected abductor by the Seven Network.
The media company issued a statement late last night apologising for wrongly saying Mr Flowers was the suspect in the Cleo Smith case.
‘Earlier on Wednesday 7NEWS wrongly showed images of a man that were incorrectly labelled as the person under arrest over the disappearance of Cleo Smith,’ the statement said.
‘These were removed promptly, but 7NEWS apologises for the error.’
Neighbours look out onto the house where missing girl Cleo Smith (4) was rescued by Western Australian Police
Daily Mail Australia understands Mr Flowers ‘sought shelter’ with officers in Karatha after he was targeted on social media.
Mr Flowers was due to be interviewed on WA’s Ngaarda radio station early on Thursday morning, but pulled out.
‘Terrance Flowers has decided to pull out of his interview this morning because he has been talking with lawyers,’ presenter Tangiora Hinaki said.
She added that Karatha Senior Sergeant Daniel Strachan ‘has been very supportive of Mr Flowers during this tough time and also contacted Channel 7 on his behalf’.
View of House and police in Tonlin Street Carnarvon where Cleo Smith was detained > Duplex house centre of image Photo Bohdan Warchomij – 10162881
One of the traditional tribal punishments in Aboriginal culture is where the victim gets speared into the thigh or calf.
This type of punishment is often shown in films based around Indigenous society.
The crime determined what kind of wound the offender received.
Instead of having Mr Flowers on, Ms Hinaki instead featured an interview with his aunt, Nyamal woman Karen Beazely.
‘People jumped the gun and saw, when they looked up Facebook, Terry Kelly and straightaway there were a lot of angry people,’ said Ms Beazely.
‘So they typed in Terry Kelly and what’s come up is the wrong Terry Kelly.’
She added: ‘My daughter Tracy and my niece Patricia, took him down to the Karatha police.
‘When the family told him his face was on the … news, he’s broke down and cried and he was sobbing, really upset,’ she said.
‘I would like people to wait for the police to give out proper information, because jumping the gun can cause someone who is innocent … people can go for the wrong person,’ Ms Beazely said.
A post on the radio station’s Facebook page said: ‘Let the police continue to do their job, stop trying to be a lynch mob. Just leave it to be confirmed by the police and justice will be served.’
EXCLUSIVE: How the loner arrested over Cleo Smith’s abduction was ‘bashed in his cell by another prisoner’ as soon as he realised he was the alleged kidnapper – with ‘attack putting him in hospital’
By BRITTANY CHAIN FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
A man arrested over the alleged kidnapping of Cleo Smith was allegedly attacked by another prisoner inside a police holding cell – and has been taken to hospital a second time.
Terry Kelly, 36, had only been at Carnarvon police station, in Western Australia, for a few hours on Wednesday when he was allegedly set upon by a prisoner.
Kelly was arrested over the alleged abduction of little Cleo who was missing for 18 days after disappearing from a campsite 75km from her home while on holiday with her family.
That prisoner’s mother told Daily Mail Australia her son was ‘furious’ when he discovered why Kelly had been arrested.
‘As soon as he heard this bloke was arrested over that little Cleo, he blew up, beat him black and blue,’ the woman said.
‘I tell you what, he (Kelly) got a real hiding… my son had to be taken out in shackles, and he (Kelly) was taken for treatment… he was in a bad way. He is a big bloke but he really copped it’.
A spokesman for the Western Australia Police Force said detectives would not be commenting on the woman’s claims, but confirmed the man in custody had been treated in hospital for a range of injuries including some of self-harm.
Kelly was loaded into an ambulance outside the police station yesterday morning and taken to hospital for treatment. A large white bandage was wrapped around his head.
WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch told Sydney’s Radio 2GB the alleged kidnapper was returned to hospital on Thursday morning, but his injuries are not serious.
Cleo, four, was found by startled detectives in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a locked house in her hometown of Carnarvon, 18 days after she disappeared from a remote campsite while on holiday with her parents.