Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro says four-year-old Cleo Smith and her family will have to work through ‘enormous’ trauma after her 18-day ordeal.
Cleo, who went missing from a family camping holiday, was found in a house in nearby Carnarvon, Western Australia after police broke their way into the locked home at around 1am local time on Wednesday.
Mr Watson-Munro – who has worked on some of the country’s most notorious crimes – told the Nine Network’s Today Show ‘It is just wonderful news, with a result, frankly, none of us really expected.’
He was relieved to hear that Cleo was physically unharmed. ‘Of course, we don’t know about the psychological trauma, which I suspect will be enormous.’
Four-year-old Cleo Smith has been found alive after being taken from a campsite 18 days ago
Mr Watson-Munro said the case had disturbed the whole country, and the national sense of relief on Wednesday was due to excellent detective work by the police, cooperation of the public and publicity from the media.
He said the details how Cleo was found ‘will be fascinating’ and that from a policing perspective it went very wide but also investigated minute details in a way that did not alert the alleged offender.
‘I was always confident that it was a case of it would be solved. I was less confident it would have a happy ending that we’re experiencing this morning,’ he said.
Cleo Smith’s first words to the police after being found were ‘My name is Cleo’
The police will be investigating the state of the alleged kidnapper’s mind, the psychologist said.
‘A lot of the work would have been done already. This is not a fluke that they found him. I suspect that they’ve been watching him,’ said Mr Watson-Munro.
He said the police will be meticulous in putting all the evidence together and presenting a very solid case to the court.
‘The police, as they have been in this case, have been extremely thorough and methodical in terms of their investigation and the investigation doesn’t cease with the discovery of a child.’
Criminal Psychologist Tim Watson-Munro with his daughter. Mr Watson Munro was walking on the beach in Byron Bay, NSW when he heard the news that four-year-old Cleo Smith had been found alive
He said the people of Carnarvon will be distressed by the discovery within their community and be wondering if they had the opportunity to find her earlier.
Speaking to Daily Mail in the early days of the investigation into the disappearance of Cleo, Mr Watson-Munro that a child snatcher ‘could be anyone’.
‘It’s someone who can blend into a suburban lifestyle … he could be involved in community or sporting clubs.
‘If you met the offender he may appear very normal.
‘This is the danger about these people – their ordinariness. They can blend in very easily and generally they are well presented.’