One of the detectives who rescued kidnapped girl Cleo Smith leaked sensitive information about the case to a young journalist he was in a relationship with, a corruption watchdog has found.
Former detective senior sergeant Cameron Blaine was among the officers who found the four-year-old at abductor Terence Kelly’s home in northern WA on November 3, 2021.
WATCHED THE VIDEO ABOVE: Cleo Smith cop leaked details to journalist he was in relationship with.
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He shot to fame when footage went viral of him asking Cleo her name, 18 days after she went missing, to which she responded: “My name is Cleo.”
West Australia’s corruption watchdog released its report on Thursday, making a finding of police misconduct against Blaine.
The commission said the former officer, now aged 50, leaked to the 22-year-old journalist multiple times when the pair began an intimate relationship in the days before and after Cleo Smith was found in November 2021.
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“During (the operation) journalists and reporters for both print and electronic media were lodged in motels and other places in Carnarvon, as were police (and) members of each socialised together on occasion,” the report said.
The pair then continued an intimate relationship until February 2022, when Blaine leaked sensitive information about the investigation into Cleo Smith’s abduction.
This included the behaviour of persons of interest, the route taken and previous offending by Kelly, and Cleo’s missing sleeping bag.
He also told the journalist about particular “police investigative methodologies” and threats that had been made against members of the force.
A watchdog found Cameron Blaine, a detective who found Cleo Smith, committed police misconduct. Credit: AAP
The commission found the journalist had done nothing wrong and the blame was on Blaine.
“The relationship was unwise, she is young, in the early stages of a career as a journalist. It is her job to ask questions and seek out information,” the report reads.
“DSS Blaine had an obligation to keep matters confidential and failed to do so.
“Fortunately, for the most part, (the journalist) recognised the material was sensitive and did not use it.”
The watchdog found he released the information for his own benefit in maintaining a relationship with her. It also found he had previously leaked other information about investigations to journalists.
Misuse of police resources
After sending information to a different journalist about an apparent murder-suicide, he sent her a message proving he knew his actions were “improper”, the watchdog found.
“Do you have Signal? All the messages going through the phone exchange to a journalist is going to cause me grief lol,” the message read.
Blaine was also found to have used police vehicles 62 times for non-police purposes.
On several occasions, he drove the car to different women’s homes or to the pub and stayed for several hours.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the misconduct was totally unacceptable.
“But what we should remember is the Cleo investigation was an effort by the entire WA police force and a team of more than 100 individuals.
“It was an extraordinary outcome and exceptional bit of policing and no misconduct by any individual diminishes that.”
Blaine resigned from the WA police force on Wednesday ahead of the report’s release and a WA police spokeswoman confirmed it had been accepted..
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine resigned from the WA police force ahead of the report’s release. Credit: AAP
After being praised for his central role in reuniting Cleo with her family, he was stood down in September last year amid a Corruption and Crime Commission investigation.
A WA Police spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed Blaine’s resignation had been accepted.
Cleo was taken on October 16, 2021 from the remote Blowholes campsite, 75km north of the town of Carnarvon, where she was later found.
Kelly had gone to the campsite, 960km north of Perth, looking for items to steal but made the opportunistic decision to take Cleo, whose parents were sleeping nearby.
Her disappearance sparked a major police investigation, which eventually led detectives to Kelly’s property, which was just minutes from Cleo’s family home.
Officers forced entry and found her alone in a room, playing with toys.
Kelly later admitted abducting the girl while high on methamphetamine and was sentenced to at least 11-and-a-half years behind bars.
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