News People Backpacker booted from Byron bar before vanishing

Backpacker booted from Byron bar before vanishing

theo hayez inquest
Theo Hayez was last seen in Byron Bay in May 2019 and his remains have never been found. Photo: Supplied
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Belgian teenager Theo Hayez was ejected from a Byron Bay bar without a chance to tell his friends the night he disappeared two years ago.

An inquest into the 18-year-old’s disappearance has heard the ejection has caused his family great distress.

Mr Hayez was near the end of a backpacking trip around Australia when he went missing on the night of May 31, 2019.

His remains have never been found, nor have his phone or clothes.

A hat he was wearing was found in bushland on the route he walked after being kicked out of the Cheeky Monkey’s bar.

Counsel assisting the inquest, Kellie Edwards, told the NSW Coroners Court in Byron Bay on Monday that the working theory of police was that Mr Hayez tried to climb cliffs at Cosy Corner beach, fell and was swept out to sea.

However, the coronial investigation has found no evidence he was reckless, engaged in dangerous physical activity, or was particularly interested in alcohol or drugs.

Although his phone hasn’t been recovered, it continued to send a weak signal until the next afternoon.

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

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

Mr Hayez had consumed some cheap “goon” wine at his hostel with fellow backpackers before heading out to Cheeky Monkey’s about 9pm.

While there, he had two schooners of beer.

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

The backpackers he was at the bar with learned he’d been ejected by security about 11pm only during the police investigation.

They were confused when told of it, Ms Edwards said.

“Theo didn’t seem drunk and others in the bar seemed much more drunk,” they told investigators, Ms Edwards said.

He had contact details for only one of the people he was with.

Mr Hayez’s ejection on his own, without any chance to tell his friends, had caused his family great distress, she said.

His family, some of whom have flown in from Belgium, sat in the courtroom observing the proceedings on Monday

Google account data shows Mr Hayez searched for directions back to his hostel after his ejection.

However, he walked in the opposite direction to Tallow Beach.

The last data point put him at Cosy Corner. He appears to have turned off his location services just after midnight to save battery.

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

The last message was sent to his stepsister Emma at 12.55am.

The inquest into his disappearance is expected to run for two weeks.

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