A man suspected of abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith from a remote campsite was reportedly assaulted by a inmate within hours of his arrest.
The 36-year-old was arrested more than 60 miles from the area where Cleo was kidnapped after a dramatic nightly raid.
While he was waiting in a holding cell, he was beaten “black and blue” by another prisoner, according to Australian media reports.
The suspect was later pictured in an ambulance with a bandage on his head, surrounded by police officers.
Detectives announced last night that the toddler was found alive almost three weeks after her mysterious disappearance.
The man, who was not at home at the time, was then brought up for questioning.
The proud mother of his attacker said Daily Mail Australia her son: “As soon as he heard that this guy had been arrested for little Cleo, he blew him up, hit him black and blue.
“Tell you what, he was really hiding … my son had to be brought out in shackles and he was taken for treatment … he was bad. He’s a big guy, but he really coped with it.”
Cleo, branded the country’s “Madeleine McCann,” disappeared on October 16 at the Blowholes Shacks site in Carnarvon, north of Perth.
Her family had feared the worst, but after her rescue after a dramatic rescue in the early hours of the morning, Mama Ellie Smith posted on Instagram: “Our family is whole again.”
The little girl was alone in the house at the time, and the suspect was later pictured in the back seat of an ambulance with a head injury.
The suspect is unknown to Cleo’s family, police said yesterday.
And a picture was posted on social media of Cleo smiling and waving in a hospital bed after she was found with the caption, “The Miracle We All Hoped For.”
Western Australia Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch said Cleo and her family slept in the same room after being rescued and he said he believed they “cuddled all night”.
He told 2GB, “They had a little hope, but I thought they probably thought they’d never cuddle her again.
“I’m pretty sure they all slept in the same room and just cuddled all night.”
Officials broke into a house in Carnarvon, a town about 100 km south of the campsite, early Wednesday morning and found Cleo in one of the rooms.
An extensive search followed, questioning hundreds of people, and forensically going through trash cans looking for clues.
The news of the little girl’s rescue was received with glee by a public who feared the worst.
Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said: “It is an honor to announce that the police of Western Australia rescued Cleo Smith early in the morning. Cleo is safe and sound.
“One of the officers took her in his arms and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Cleo.’ “
WA Police Force via Getty Images)
He said “incredible policing” led to Cleo’s rescue but did not provide any further information.
Det Sgt Cameron Blaine was one of four police officers who ransacked the Carnarvon home.
He said, “There could have been anyone on the team, but it turned out I was one of four guys lucky enough to walk through that door and make this rescue.
“We had always hoped for this result, but we weren’t prepared for it. It was absolutely fantastic. It was originally amazing to see her sitting the way she was.”
He continued, “One of the guys jumped in front of me and picked her up and I just wanted to be sure, it definitely looked like Cleo. I wanted to be sure it was her,” he said.
“I said ‘what’s your name?’ She didn’t answer, I asked again and she didn’t answer. I asked a third time and then she looked at me and said, ‘My name is Cleo’. And that was it. Then we turned around and left the house. “
RICHARD WAINWRIGHT / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
WA Commissioner Chris Dawson said, “What a great day. We have now brought Cleo back to her loving parents. It’s a wonderful day for this little girl and her loving family. “
“She’s fine physically. That was clear from the start,” said Sergeant Cameron Blaine, who freed the child from the state police.
“When we took them to the hospital, we got this from people who know what they are doing.”
He said it was “without a doubt” the best moment of his career to find her.
Shocked neighbors have revealed details about the man who owned the house where she was found.
A neighbor told the story Sunrise: “The other day – on Monday – we saw him buying in Woolworths Kimbies [nappies] and the.
“But we didn’t click on what he bought it for.”
Sahntayah McKenzie, who also lives nearby, said she heard crying one night but did not associate it with the then missing girl.
In an emotional statement following the girl’s discovery, New South Wales Commissioner Mick Fuller said his Western Australian counterpart Chris Dawson burst into tears at the news.
Mr. Fuller said he thought the chances of finding Cleo alive were “so slim”.
He added, “The Western Australian police never gave up on Cleo, it was good old-fashioned policing that resulted in her being found alive.”
Cleo’s mother discovered the toddler was missing in the tent around 6 a.m., and the search began on October 16.
The remote terrain conditions made it difficult to search the area with some people using quad bikes and even a drone.
JAMES CARMODY / ABC NEWS POOL / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
More than 100 people were interviewed on site and the police carried out extensive searches on land and in the air.
“The police arrived at 7:10 am and set up a protected area at 7:26 am,” revealed Det Superintendent Rob Wilde.
At around 11 a.m. homicide investigators were on site and the police searched cars at the campsite.
Det Supt Wilde said police had previously responded to around 200 possible sightings of Cleo across the country, but none turned out to be them.