“Coroner’s ‘tragic’ inquest finding over backpacker Theo Hayez disappearance”
A coroner has concluded Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez is dead but she is unable to determine the cause or manner of his death.
State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan said suicide appeared to be highly unlikely and there was no reason for the 18-year-old to intentionally vanish.
But she could not make a finding on the two competing theories put forward at the inquest into his disappearance more than three years ago.
They were that he had a terrible accident as he tried to climb toward the lighthouse at Byron Bay, or that one or more persons caused his death and disposed of his body.
“Sadly, there is just insufficient evidence before me to substantiate or exclude either theory,” she said on Friday.
He was reportedly last seen about 11pm on May 31, 2019 when he was ejected from the Cheeky Monkeys bar in Byron Bay.
Police were alerted six days later after he failed to return to his hostel and could not be found or contacted.
A large-scale search was launched, with only a hat believed to belong to Theo located.
Police in February announced a $500,000 reward for anyone with significant information about Theo’s case.
“I hope if there is any further information to be known, the reward would provide a motivation to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers,” the coroner said.
O’Sullivan acknowledged the sadness and loss experienced by Theo’s family and friends, some who travelled from Belgium to Byron Bay for the inquest.
“It is obvious from the evidence he had a bright future ahead of him,” she said.
“Theo’s disappearance is a tragic loss of a clever, gentle and thoughtful young man who was universally loved.”
She concluded by making recommendations to cut the red tape involved in searching for missing persons.
Source: 7News Australia