UPDATED: Police have charged a Western Australian man over the abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith

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West Australian police have charged a 36-year-old man in relation to the alleged abduction of Cleo Smith after the four-year-old was found alive and well 18 days after she disappeared.

On Thursday afternoon, WA police said the man had been charged with various offences relating to the alleged abduction of Cleo including “one count of forcibly take a child under 16”.

Terence Darrell Kelly did not apply for bail and was not required to enter a plea when he faced Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court this afternoon.

The 36-year-old expressed anger with the media presence as he was flanked by two police officers. 

He took a while to acknowledge his name, he nodded to indicate he understood the charges, which included one count of forcibly taking a child under 16, commonly referred to as child stealing. 

He appeared overweight, wore his hair out and did not show much emotion, other than appearing agitated with the presence of two ABC journalists. 

He was remanded in custody until December 6.

Officers found Cleo about 1am local time on Wednesday morning alone in a room at a house in Carnarvon, a town 900km north of Perth on WA’s north-west coast, and just 75km from where her family was camping when she disappeared from their tent on 16 October.

The 36-year-old man was taken into custody and questioned about the suspected abduction after officers rescued Cleo. The man was not at the house when Cleo was discovered and police have said he has no connection to the family.

Police on Thursday released an audio recording of when they entered the house and found Cleo in one of the rooms. “We’ve got her. We’ve got her,” an officer could be heard saying.

State Premier Mark McGowan said Cleo is a “very bright, upbeat, sweet little girl” and looked “very well adjusted” considering the ordeal, after meeting the family.

#CleoSmith has been trending on Twitter since Wednesday with a photo posted by the police of a smiling Cleo waving from her hospital bed getting nearly 54,000 likes. Many landmarks in Perth, the Western Australia state capital, were lit up in blue on Wednesday night to thank the police for helping find Cleo.

Photo – Four-year-old Cloe Smith (R) and her mum Ellie Smith (L) are seen leaving a house where she spent her first night after being rescued in Carnarvon, Australia, 04 November 2021. . EPA-EFE/RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

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