A TV Station Ran His Photo, With 'Devastating' Effects

Terrance Flowers didn't take Cleo Smith, but Seven indicated he was the suspect
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2021 1:32 PM CST
Updated Nov 21, 2021 9:30 AM CST
He Didn't Take Cleo Smith, Is Suing Station That Said He Did
Cleo Smith, right, and her mother Ellie Smith leave a house where they spent the night after 4-year-old Cleo was rescued in Carnarvon, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.   (Richard Wainwright/AAP Image via AP)

It's a case of mistaken identity that has led a man to sue. The alleged abduction of 4-year-old Cleo Smith gripped Australia, as did her rescue. Terence Kelly was charged with taking the child, but as the BBC explains, one of Australia's leading news channels ran photos of Terrance Flowers and widely published them as "the man accused of abducting Cleo Smith." The Seven Network reportedly pulled four photos from Flowers' Facebook account, where he used his mother's maiden name, presenting himself as Terrance Kelly. Those photos were plastered on broadcasts, in an online article, and on social media on Nov. 3.

Seven learned of the mistake that day, pulled them, and subsequently apologized both online and on the air. "We got it wrong," read its apology, which described Flowers as "a new father himself" who "was in no way connected with Cleo's abduction and [whose] Facebook photos should not have been used." But the apology didn't stop Flowers from ending up the hospital after suffering a panic attack, per his lawyers, who note he became "the subject of hate around the nation and the world."

Indeed, WA Today reports that among the threats he received were vows to run him over, shoot him, and burn him alive. "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." Seven has yet to comment on the defamation suit. (More mistaken identity stories.)

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