Backpacker search moves to bush


Theo Hayez, 18, was last seen leaving the holiday town’s Cheeky Monkey’s bar about 11pm on May 31.

His distraught father Laurent Hayez made an emotional plea for help on Monday, begging encrypted chat service WhatsApp to grant police access to his son’s final known conversations.

WhatsApp confirmed it had provided all the information it has to police. However the company is only able to access and disclose some data — which can include a user’s name, last seen date, IP address and basic information — but not the encrypted content.

Theo Hayez was last seen in Byron Bay on May 31.Source:Supplied

He was reported missing on June 6. Picture: AFP

He was reported missing on June 6. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mr Hayez said he feared his son was in grave danger and begged for any information that could lead police to his whereabouts.

“Before I left Belgium I promised Theo’s little brother Lucas that I would bring his brother home. Please, help me keep my promise to him,” Mr Hayez told reporters through tears.

Laurent Hayez broke down during the press conference. Picture: AAP/Regi Varghese

Laurent Hayez broke down during the press conference. Picture: AAP/Regi VargheseSource:AAP

He was reported missing on June 6 when he failed to return to his hostel and couldn’t be contacted. His passport and other personal belongings had been left untouched in his room.

While homicide detectives are helping the investigation, along with Belgian authorities, Superintendent David Roptell said he held out hope that Theo was alive.

“We’re just not clear at this point,” he said.

“It appears to be out of character. He was intending to go home. It’s baffling as to what’s occurred, but we’re not ruling anything out.”

Police released CCTV footage of Theo Hayez.

Police released CCTV footage of Theo Hayez.Source:Supplied

He was last seen in Byron Bay on May 31.

He was last seen in Byron Bay on May 31.Source:Supplied

Dozens of people, including State Emergency Service volunteers and members of the public, on Tuesday. returned to the area around Cape Byron Lighthouse where the last ‘ping’ from Theo’s phone was recorded on June 1.

The search was suspended on Tuesday evening with nothing of interest found, NSW Police said in a statement.

State Emergency Service volunteers and members of the public have joined the search. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

State Emergency Service volunteers and members of the public have joined the search. Picture: AAP Image/Regi VargheseSource:AAP

The operation will resume mid-morning on Wednesday with specialist police forces.

Belgian police are also working in Europe to speak with people Theo may have contacted in his final known hours.

More than $65,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page for the Hayez family, part of which was used to help Laurent Hayez fly to Australia.

Mr Hayez arrived in the country late last week and has vowed to stay until his son is found.



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