Police find jacket in search for missing Belgian teen

AN  item of clothing similar to one worn by a missing Belgian backpacker has been found in an area close to where the teen was last seen more than a week ago in Byron Bay.

Police and the SES have been conducting a large-scale search for Theo Hayez, 18, after he was reported missing on Thursday.

He was last seen leaving Byron Bay's Cheeky Monkey's bar alone on May 31 about 11pm, wearing a black hooded jumper, beige pants and black shoes.

He was active on the social media application WhatsApp early the next day but his phone has not been active since.

On Sunday, three days after staff at the Byron Bay WakeUp! Backpacker hostel reported him missing because he had not checked out of his room, SES volunteers discovered a black hooded jacket in bushland near Clarkes Beach.

Police and the SES searched the bush on Sunday for signs of Mr Hayez.
Police and the SES searched the bush on Sunday for signs of Mr Hayez.

The area being searched is frequented by many itinerants who illegally camp there.

Searchers were also checking stormwater drains nearby for any signs of the missing teen.

However late Sunday Chief Inspector Mick Dempsey said investigators were looking into when Mr Hayez last used his phone and that extensive searches had yet to uncover anything of significance.

"It's ongoing - (we're) still doing searches," he said. "The whole thing is under investigation. (We have) a number of different leads."

On Friday, police issued a public appeal for information, saying they held serious concerns for his welfare.

Over the weekend a search, led by Mr Hayez's cousin Lisa Hayes who rallied friends and volunteers, also attempted to trace the steps of Mr Hayez from Cheeky Monkey's.

"We will continue the search Sunday 9th June, anyone who would be willing to help we can meet at 10am in front of the Cheeky Monkey bar," she posted on Facebook.

Theo Hayez (right, with cousin Lisa Hayez next to him) in Sydney with friends. Picture: Instagram
Theo Hayez (right, with cousin Lisa Hayez next to him) in Sydney with friends. Picture: Instagram

Byron Bay Police Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said the disappearance was "out of character".

"We've spoken to some family members and he's normally very punctual in response to social media posts and we haven't got any of those since that time which is of concern to us and the family," told the ABC.

Mr Hayez arrived in Australia last November on a working holiday visa and was due to fly to Melbourne before returning home to Belgium this week.

Theo was in Australia on a working visa. Picture: Facebook
Theo was in Australia on a working visa. Picture: Facebook
The SES searched bushland near Clarkes Beach.
The SES searched bushland near Clarkes Beach.
Theo Hayez is due to fly home in a week. Picture: Instagram
Theo Hayez is due to fly home in a week. Picture: Instagram


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