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Man Wrongly Accused In Cleo Smith Case Launches Lawsuit Against Channel 7

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Man Wrongly Accused In Cleo Smith Case Launches Lawsuit Against Channel 7

A man who was wrongly identified as the suspect involved in kidnapping West Australian girl Cleo Smith has officially launched a defamation lawsuit against Channel 7.

Terrance Flowers was horrified when he found out his photos had been posted on social media and was accused of abducting the four-year-old girl.

He was able to get the images taken down from Facebook after visiting a police station.

However, he was later told that Channel 7 had pinched the images and then used them to incorrectly name him as the suspect.

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Credit: Ngaarda Media
Credit: Ngaarda Media

Speaking to Ngaarda Media, Mr Flowers said it was a really traumatic experience.

"We seen it up on Channel 7 and Sunrise page. I got upset and went back into the police station. I ended up getting more upset and I had a panic attack in the police station," he said.

Terrance said the panic attack was so severe that he had to be taken to hospital and given medication to calm down.

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He was furious at how quickly his personal images were plastered all over the country.

"That stuff is not acceptable," he said. "What they did was go straight on Facebook. The first person they seen got through my photos and uploaded on social media, and spread it around, not just in Australia, this is worldwide.

"I want them to do their job more seriously, and professionally and I'm gonna end up suing them anyways, cause it's not the right thing for them to be doing."

Credit: Ellie Smith/Instagram
Credit: Ellie Smith/Instagram
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He is now being represented by a team of lawyers in Sydney, who have submitted a defamation lawsuit with the Western Australian Supreme Court.

They claim it was the first time images of an alleged suspect had been released in the Cleo Smith case and therefore the public interest was unbelievably high.

"Given the public interest in the disappearance of Cleo Smith throughout Australia, it was the natural and probable consequence of the [broadcast] ... that the allegations made about Mr Flowers in that publication would be widely republished," the lawsuit states.

"Mr Flowers recently became a father and, like everyone else throughout Australia, and particularly being a parent himself, he was hoping for Cleo's safe return.

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"Being identified as responsible for her abduction and disappearance was extremely distressing to him and his family.

Credit: Ellie Smith/Instagram
Credit: Ellie Smith/Instagram

"It is of great concern to Mr Flowers and his family that a major media company would proceed with a story of this magnitude without being absolutely certain as to its accuracy.

"The effect of this substantial error has been devastating."

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Terrance revealed he had received violent threats after being misidentified.

His team of lawyers said he won't be making any public statements now that the lawsuit has been filed.

When the mistake was realised, Channel 7 issued an apology saying '7NEWS wrongly showed images of a man that were incorrectly labelled as the person under arrest over disappearance of Cleo Smith'.

A Carnarvon man named Terence Darrell Kelly has since been charged with one count of forcibly taking a child under 16 in the Cleo Smith case.

To support the fight against racial injustice visit ladbible.com/unheard

Featured Image Credit: Ngaarda Media

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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