The 36-year-old man was pictured laying on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance with his head heavily bandaged.
Two police officers are seated in the back of the emergency vehicle with one covering the alleged suspect’s face with a blanket.
The man was taken into custody and questioned by detectives over the alleged kidnapping that occurred in the early hours of October 16 at Blowholes campsite in Macleod, just 75 kilometres north of Carnarvon.
Police say he has no connection to the family of Cleo and only became a suspect in the missing person’s case on Tuesday.
The man is yet to be charged as of Thursday morning.
The first image of the alleged Cleo Smith abductor heavily bandaged and in the back of an ambulance. A police officer covers his face with a blanket. Picture: Picture: Simon Hydzik/7 News
According to Channel 7, the Carnarvon man sustained head injuries while in his holding cell and an ambulance was called.
Homicide Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde confirmed the man was “known to police”.
“He is known but I have to be very careful around that,” he told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed a suspicious car allegedly spotted by a witness leaving the Blowholes campsite was a key piece of evidence that led to the discovery of Cleo.
“Look, me and Deputy Commissioner (Col) Blanch and others talked about … we were trying to find a car. I’ll leave it at that,” he told The Kyle and Jackie O radio show just hours after she was discovered.
“But at the same time we were following a really methodical thorough way of eliminating and tracing everyone that had been in and around that area.
“That is the way we found her.”
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Forensics officers spent the day at the home of the alleged suspect seizing bags of evidence including a rug, which has been flown to Perth for further investigations, according to Channel 7.
Det Supt Wilde confirmed Cleo was taken from the campsite and they believe no one else was involved.
“It appears to be opportunistic,” he said.
Dozens of police and forensic officers spent much of Wednesday at the Carnarvon property where she was found. Picture: Tamati Smith/Getty Images
A number of items were seized from the property including a rug, according to Channel 9. Picture: Nine News
‘Incredible’: WA police officer describes moment Cleo Smith was found
A team of four lead investigators burst into the Carnarvon property on Tonkin Crescent around 1am on Wednesday morning where they found little Cleo locked inside one of the rooms.
Detective Sergeant Cameron Blaine said while there were resemblances to the missing girl, he wanted to confirm it was Cleo.
“I asked her what her name was. One of the guy’s jumped in in front of me and picked her up. I just wanted to be absolutely sure. It certainly looked like Cleo. I said ‘what’s your name’ and she didn’t answer,” Det Sgt Blaine said.
“I said ‘what’s your name’, she didn’t answer again. So I asked her a third time and she looked at me and she said ‘My name’s Cleo’ and that was it.
“And we turned around and walked out of the house and not long after that got into the car and the officer I was with called Cleo’s parents and said ‘we’ve got someone here who wants to speak to you’ and it was a wonderful feeling to be able to make that call.”
Her mum Ellie Smith and step-father Jake Gliddon met Cleo en-route to hospital.
Ms Smith took to Instagram only hours after she was told of the heart-warming news to share an image of her daughter with a news headline that read “Cleo Smith found ‘alive and well’ after rescue”.
Western Australia Police shared this image of a smiling Cleo Smith in hospital waving to the camera and enjoying an icy pole. Picture: WA Police
Western Australia Police showed an image of a smiling Cleo wrapped in a hospital blanket enjoying an icy pole and waving to the camera at the press conference.
“What a great day. We have now returned Cleo to her loving parents. It’s a wonderful day for this little girl and her loving family,” Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said.
“It is a really special day for Western Australia. Indeed, I know the nation is rejoicing over the fact that we’ve been able to conduct this operation and we never gave up hope.
“I know that Cleo’s parents never gave up hope and it’s just a such a wonderful opportunity for me to say, thank you.” 

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