Cleo Smith: Zoe Marshall criticises WA Police for sharing hospital photo


It was the photo millions of Aussies were waiting for: a smiling, happy Cleo Smith reunited with her mother after she went missing for 18 excruciating days.

But not everyone found the image released by WA Police on Wednesday afternoon particularly heart-warming.

TV and radio host Zoe Marshall, the wife of NRL star Benji Marshall, said the photo of Cleo waving for the camera and eating an icy pole made her feel ‘uncomfortable’.

TV and radio host Zoe Marshall (left, with NRL star husband Benji Marshall) has criticised WA Police for sharing a photo of missing girl Cleo Smith in hospital hours after her miracle rescue

TV and radio host Zoe Marshall (left, with NRL star husband Benji Marshall) has criticised WA Police for sharing a photo of missing girl Cleo Smith in hospital hours after her miracle rescue

She reposted the widely shared image of Cleo on Instagram Stories but obscured the child’s face with a block of text, which read: ‘This makes me so uncomfortable.

‘Why is there a photo of her waving and smiling? Why is there someone taking a photo and sharing it with the world at all?’

She added: ‘What this little girl has endured. I just don’t get it. Let her recover, be with her family, get the camera out of her face.’

She reposted the widely shared image of Cleo on Instagram but obscured the child's face with a block of text, which read: 'This makes me so uncomfortable. Why is there a photo of her waving and smiling? Why is there someone taking a photo and sharing it with the world at all?'

She reposted the widely shared image of Cleo on Instagram but obscured the child’s face with a block of text, which read: ‘This makes me so uncomfortable. Why is there a photo of her waving and smiling? Why is there someone taking a photo and sharing it with the world at all?’

'What this little girl has endured. I just don't get it. Let her recover, be with her family, get the camera out of her face,' Zoe wrote across the photo

‘What this little girl has endured. I just don’t get it. Let her recover, be with her family, get the camera out of her face,’ Zoe wrote across the photo 

Zoe appears to have since deleted the post. Daily Mail Australia has contacted her representatives at RGM Digital Artists for comment.

WA Police shared the photo because of the overwhelming public interest in the case and it was presumably released with Cleo’s family’s permission.

The little girl seemed happy for her photo to be taken and her mother, Ellie Smith, can be seen holding her feet in the bottom right corner.

It’s unclear if Zoe was aware the photo was distributed with the family’s blessing, or if she noticed Ellie was sitting at the end of the hospital bed. 

WA Police shared the photo because of the overwhelming public interest in the case and it was presumably released with Cleo's family's permission. Cleo seemed happy for her photo to be taken and her mother, Ellie, can be seen holding her feet in the bottom right corner

WA Police shared the photo because of the overwhelming public interest in the case and it was presumably released with Cleo’s family’s permission. Cleo seemed happy for her photo to be taken and her mother, Ellie, can be seen holding her feet in the bottom right corner

The photo of a smiling Cleo propped up on her hospital bed eating an icy pole has been shared millions of times around the world.

Many Australian celebrities posted it on Wednesday alongside messages of support for the child’s family.

Zoe isn’t the only WAG to weigh in on Cleo’s disappearance and miracle rescue.

Zoe (pictured with husband Benji and their son Fox) appears to have since deleted the post. Daily Mail Australia has contacted her representatives at RGM Digital Artists for comment

Zoe (pictured with husband Benji and their son Fox) appears to have since deleted the post. Daily Mail Australia has contacted her representatives at RGM Digital Artists for comment

Jesinta Franklin, who is married to AFL superstar Lance Franklin, used the child’s discovery to highlight the ‘disparity’ in media coverage of missing children who are white and those who are black or Indigenous.

‘Without taking away from the joy of finding a missing child alive and well, I can’t help but think about the disparity that exists in this country between missing children who are white and Indigenous children when it comes to the visibility and coverage of the case,’ she wrote on Instagram Stories.

‘I have read so many heartbreaking stories of missing Indigenous children that garner hardly any media coverage or the social media coverage that a case like Cleo’s did. 

‘I have no doubt the widespread broadcasting of information in regards to the case assisted the phenomenal efforts of the WA police force in locating this beautiful little girl and reuniting her with her family.

‘Posting this because I think we need to do better for all children who go missing and their families.’

Jesinta, like Zoe, later deleted her post.

Jesinta Franklin (right), who is married to AFL superstar Lance Franklin (left), used the child's discovery to highlight the 'disparity' in media coverage of missing children who are white and those who are black or Indigenous

Jesinta Franklin (right), who is married to AFL superstar Lance Franklin (left), used the child’s discovery to highlight the ‘disparity’ in media coverage of missing children who are white and those who are black or Indigenous 

'Without taking away from the joy of finding a missing child alive and well, I can't help but think about the disparity that exists in this country between missing children who are white and Indigenous children when it comes to the visibility and coverage of the case,' she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post

‘Without taking away from the joy of finding a missing child alive and well, I can’t help but think about the disparity that exists in this country between missing children who are white and Indigenous children when it comes to the visibility and coverage of the case,’ she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post

Jesinta is mother to daughter Tullulah, 20 months, and son Rocky, seven months.

Her husband is Sydney Swans star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, a proud Noongar-Wajuk man whose ancestors hail from south-west Western Australia.

Indigenous people account for 17.5 per cent of all unsolved missing persons cases in Western Australia, despite making up just three per cent of the local population. 

In August 2019, the families of 15 missing Aboriginal children united for a state-wide rally in NSW to raise awareness for Indigenous cases. 

Family: Jesinta is mother to daughter Tullulah, 20 months, and son Rocky, seven months. Her husband is Sydney Swans star Lance 'Buddy' Franklin (pictured), a proud Noongar-Wajuk man whose ancestors hail from south-west Western Australia

Family: Jesinta is mother to daughter Tullulah, 20 months, and son Rocky, seven months. Her husband is Sydney Swans star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin (pictured), a proud Noongar-Wajuk man whose ancestors hail from south-west Western Australia

Cleo disappeared on October 16 and was found alive at 12.46am on Wednesday when police stormed a public housing home after a sudden tip off with a ‘needle in haystack’ clue.

Police feared the missing girl could have been spirited away anywhere in the country – but instead she was under their noses all along in a rundown house just 3km from her home and 75km from the campsite.

‘What’s your name?’ officers asked as they scooped her up into their arms. ‘My name is Cleo,’ she replied.

Found: Cleo disappeared on October 16 and was found alive at 12.46am on Wednesday when police stormed a public housing home after a sudden tip off with a 'needle in haystack' clue

Found: Cleo disappeared on October 16 and was found alive at 12.46am on Wednesday when police stormed a public housing home after a sudden tip off with a ‘needle in haystack’ clue

That rundown house on Tonkin Crescent in Brockman, in the northern suburbs of Carnarvon in northwest Western Australia, is just kilometres from where she lived in South Carnarvon.

Right in the middle is the town’s main shopping centre where the 36-year-old resident of the house was seen by neighbours buying Kimbies nappies at Woolworths.

Cleo was likely already locked up in the house when her mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather, Jake Gliddon, awoke at 6am to find she was no longer lying next to them and her baby sister, Isla, in their tent at Blowholes camping grounds. 

Important message: 'Posting this because I think we need to do better for all children who go missing and their families,' concluded Jesinta

Important message: ‘Posting this because I think we need to do better for all children who go missing and their families,’ concluded Jesinta

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