The Nyamal man who was wrongly identified by 7News as being Cleo Smith‘s alleged abductor shortly after she was found last week, says he’s been barraged with threats of violence and death both online and by people on the street.
Per Nine newspapers, Terrance Flowers – who uses his mother’s maiden name on social media, presenting as “Terrance Kelly” – was mistaken for Terence Kelly by the news publication. He’s since told journalists that he’s been too afraid to leave his house in Karratha and had to delete his social media accounts, after people were coming up to him on the street thinking he was Cleo’s alleged abductor.
He also said he hasn’t been able to sleep properly, and whenever he leaves his house he’s constantly worried that someone’s going to attack him.
“I was very scared and frightened for my life. I have been distraught and in turmoil – I can’t stay home by myself,” he told reporters at WAToday.
“When I leave the house I have that thought in the back of my head that someone’s going to pull up on me and threaten me or actually assault me.
“I haven’t been able to think clearly, and I’m hardly sleeping – it’s traumatising me for something that I’ve never done.”
It’s been previously reported that Mr Flowers was considering pursuing legal action against Channel Seven, after the news network published his Facebook images without censoring or blurring his identity. He’s apparently now working with Sydney-based legal firm O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors on a defamation lawsuit, which could see him be paid more than $400k from the massive media company.
In a statement given to Nine Newspapers, the law firm said the defamation case from Mr Flowers was one of the worst they’d seen, considering he had been hospitalised for a severe panic attack following the vitriol from the public.
“It is of great concern to our client and his family that the Seven Network would proceed with a story of this magnitude without being absolutely certain as to its accuracy,” the statement said.
“The effect of this substantial error has been devastating for them.”
Seven has since apologised for the company’s grave error in misidentifying Flowers, which was also criticised for only being posted on the publication’s website, and not shared across 7News’ social media platforms.