Investigation into Theo Hayez begins: Belgian teenager expelled from Byron Bay bar before disappearing


Belgian teenager Theo Hayez was kicked out of a bar in Byron Bay without having had a chance to tell his friends the night he disappeared two years ago.

An investigation into the 18-year-old’s disappearance revealed that the deportation caused great distress to his family.

Theo was nearing the end of a backpacking trip in Australia when he disappeared on the night of May 31, 2019.

His remains were never found, neither his phone nor his clothes.

A hat he was wearing was found in the bush on the road he traveled after being kicked out of the Cheeky Monkey bar.

A missing person flyer is seen near a beach while searching for missing backpacker Theo Hayez in Byron Bay. Credit: DAVE HUNTING/PAA

Attending inquest lawyer Kellie Edwards told NSW Coroners Court in Byron Bay that the police work theory is that he tried to climb the cliffs at Cozy Corner Beach, is fell and was swept away by the sea.

However, the coronial inquest found no evidence that he was reckless, engaged in dangerous physical activity, or had a particular interest in alcohol or drugs.

Although his phone was not recovered, he continued to send a weak signal until the following afternoon.

“No evidence at all”

He was close to his family, had good, close relationships with friends, and was eager to start the next phase of his life when he returned home – an engineering degree.

There is “no evidence” to suggest he would kill himself, Ms Edwards said.

Theo had consumed cheap “goon” wine at his hostel with other backpackers before heading to Cheeky Monkey’s around 9:00 pm While there he had two beer schooners.

CCTV footage shown in court showed occasional trips, but the evidence that he was actually intoxicated was “ambiguous,” Ms Edwards said.

Théo Hayez.
Théo Hayez. Credit: Provided

Backpackers he was with at the bar only learned that he was evicted by security around 11 p.m. during the police investigation.

They were confused when they found out, Ms Edwards said.

“Theo didn’t appear to be drunk and the others in the bar looked a lot more drunk,” they told investigators, Ms Edwards said.

He didn’t have the contact details of one of the people he was with.

Theo’s expulsion from himself, without any chance to tell his friends about it, had caused great distress to his family, she said.

Cheeky Monkey Restaurant and Bar in Byron.
Cheeky Monkey Restaurant and Bar in Byron. Credit: PAA

His family, some of whom have flown from Belgium, are seated in the courtroom to observe the proceedings.

Google Account data shows Theo searched for directions to return to his hostel after his eviction. However, he walked in the opposite direction to Tallow Beach.

The last data point placed it at Cozy Corner. It appears to have turned off its location services just after midnight to save battery life.

The last messages sent to his friends and family were light and in French, suggesting he had his phone with him and felt safe, Ms Edwards said.

The last message was sent to her stepsister Emma at 12:55 am.

The investigation into his disappearance is expected to last two weeks.

About John McTaggart

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