ActivePaper Archive Blowholes blindspots avoid CCTV - The West Australian , 11/2/2021

Blowholes blindspots avoid CCTV

Escape routes uncovered

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Cleo Smith’s potential abductor could have travelled out of the Blowholes camp site and into Carnarvon without being captured by a single security camera, it’s been revealed.

After three weeks of mapping out the area through CCTV, detectives have now established multiple escape routes that avoid detection between where the four-year-old disappeared and the small horticultural town — 70km away.

The West Australian can also reveal campers and those who volunteered to help in the search for Cleo on the morning of her disappearance had their belongings, including clothes and phones, forensically tested.

After being formally interviewed by detectives, those who were in the area at the time of Cleo’s suspected abduction, on October 16, were also swabbed for DNA and had their palm and fingerprints collected for examination.

A WA Police spokeswoman said the process was a “standard forensic procedure” for the elimination process in the investigation. “The data is collected through voluntary consent for identifying particulars,” the spokeswoman said.

One volunteer who helped with the initial search told The West that during the process he was taken through a long and thorough questionnaire about the events of the day and his activity.

Det-Supt Rod Wilde last week revealed police had managed to identify and track down more than 100 people who were in the Blowholes area when the suspected abduction took place.

It is understood dozens of other people have come forward and identified themselves since.

Detectives from Taskforce Rodia, the special operation dedicated to finding Cleo, have been poring over thousands of hours of footage sent in from the public to find any clues that would lead to the missing girl.

However, it is understood police are yet to identify the driver and potential occupants of a car seen turning off Blowholes Road about 3am on the day she vanished.

Det-Supt Wilde issued an appeal for information about the vehicle after two people, who drove past the turn-off, reported the car was headed north on the North West Coastal Highway.

The car was described as a “passenger vehicle”.

The driver of the car has yet to come forward, despite multiple appeals, and detectives are also yet to find any CCTV footage which captured the car in question.