ActivePaper Archive HORRIFYING TROLLS HAVE TO STOP - The West Australian , 11/1/2021

HORRIFYING TROLLS HAVE TO STOP

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Mark McGowan among those slamming keyboard warriors who keep attacking Cleo’s devastated parents

Premier Mark McGowan has lashed out at online trolls who have accused Cleo Smith’s parents of being involved in the four-year-old’s disappearance.

Mr McGowan on Sunday 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 police on Sunday doorknocked a number of homes in North Plantations on Carnarvon’s outskirts, gathering more information. The police officer leading the investigation, Det-Supt Rod Wilde, said Cleo’s mother Ellie and stepdad Jake, pictured right, were not suspects and had been fully co-operating with police.

The case is being treated as a suspected abduction, with Cleo vanishing from Quobba Blowholes camp site two weeks ago.

Mr McGowan said he did not understand the cowardly act of those saying despicable things while 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.”

Mr McGowan said people needed to return to a sense of decency and civility towards one another — particularly those who were clearly suffering.

The Carnarvon Church of Christ on Sunday morning prayed for “courage” for Cleo and for “angels to surround her and protect her” wherever she was.

Pastor Brenden Law-Davis gave a sermon to the “hurting” local community and Cleo’s family, asking the congregation to “lean on one another” during the difficult time.

Several community prayer vigils have already been held for Cleo, with many attendees not regular churchgoers.

The next prayer meeting in Carnarvon is scheduled for November 7 and similar events are planned at churches in Perth.

Det-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,” Det-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 his 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,” Det-Supt Wilde said.

Mr McGowan’s defence of the family comes after the Premier copped a string of abuse of his own — including death threats from anti-vaxxers who took to social media against government policy.

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 had received, Mr McGowan said: “I do”.

“All this conduct by these people, it’s not going to change the Government’s resolve,” he said.

“In fact it’s hardening our resolve, we’re more determined to put in place measures to get people vaccinated.

“So I just urge them to stop.”