A detective who was central to rescuing kidnap victim Cleo Smith committed serious misconduct while in a ‘relationship’ with a young reporter, a corruption watchdog has found.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine became an international hero when Western Australian police released footage of showing him asking the four-year-old girl her name as she was carried out of a Carnarvon house in November 2021.
‘My name is Cleo,’ she said in the now famous video.
But misconduct allegations later emerged about the veteran detective and he was investigated by Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).
The findings of that report were released on Thursday after being tabled in parliament.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine (pictured) became an international hero when footage was released by WA Police showing him asking the four-year-old girl her name
The CCC found serious misconduct in relation to Detective Senior Sergeant Blaine making ‘repeated disclosure of confidential information to media reporters’ and the repeated misuse of a police vehicle.
The commission said Detective Senior Sergeant Blaine formed a relationship with a young female reporter after Cleo’s rescue and repeatedly leaked information to her and other journalists.
During the investigation into Cleo’s disappearance, Detective Senior Sergeant Blaine ‘grew friendly’ with a 22-year-old female reporter, according to the report.
The reporter, codenamed ‘Ms A’ in the report, told the CCC she had an ‘intimate relationship’ with the detective, which he denied.
‘The Commission investigation found that DSS Blaine released confidential information in relation to his and other WAPF investigations, without any rational basis for doing so,’ the CCC said in a statement.
‘In the Commission’s opinion, DSS Blaine’s actions in releasing confidential information involved the misuse of information he acquired as a police officer as it was for his own benefit in maintaining a relationship and the benefit of the journalist.’
The CCC also identified 62 occasions on which Detective Senior Sergeant Blaine breached police policy by using a vehicle for personal reasons.
A detective who was central to rescuing kidnap victim Cleo Smith (pictured) has quit the police force just days before a corruption report about him is expected to be handed down
‘On some occasions, DSS Blaine recorded the purpose for taking the vehicle as police business,’ the statement said.
‘In the Commission’s opinion, DSS Blaine’s misuse of the motor vehicle is a breach of the trust placed in him as a senior police officer.’
Commissioner John McKechnie KC said: ‘The Commission’s report highlights two misconduct risks in the WA Police Force illustrated by the conduct of DSS Blaine’.
‘WA Police officers are in positions of trust. They have access to information which should remain confidential.
‘They have access to police assets to do their work effectively and efficiently. When that trust is abused, public confidence is lessened.’
WA Police and the CCC released a joint statement in September last year, announcing an investigation into a detective’s conduct.
‘A senior detective has today been stood down as investigations into alleged misconduct are ongoing,’ the statement read.
‘Oversight of police conduct is an integral part of the CCC’s work and accounts for a significant amount of allegations it receives.’
The CCC reportedly seized Blaine’s phone and other items as part of its investigation.
A police spokeswoman confirmed this week the detective had already quit the force ahead of the report’s release.
‘Det Sen Sgt Cameron Blaine’s resignation has been accepted,’ a brief statement read.
‘No further comment can be provided at this time.’
Resigning meant the officer would not have to face the prospect of being forced out of WA Police under what are known as Section 8 proceedings.
Under this process, Police Commissioner Col Blanch would have to explain why he lost confidence in the officer.
Cleo was rescued 18 days after she was taken from her family’s tent at the Quobba Blowholes campsite on October 16, 2021.
Detectives forced their way into a house and found her in a bedroom.
Talking to media the next day, the detective said it was ‘absolutely fantastic to see her sitting there … it was incredible.’
‘I asked her what her name was. One of the guys jumped in front of me and picked her up and I just wanted to be absolutely sure that … it was her,’ he said at the time.
‘I said, “What is your name?” She didn’t answer … I asked three times and then she looked at me and said “My name is Cleo.”‘
He said it was the best moment of his career.
Cleo’s kidnapper Terence Kelly was sentenced in April to 13 years and six months in jail.