Police investigating the disappearance of Belgian teenager Theo Hayez have revealed their main theory for his disappearance was that he tried to climb the cliffs at a beach, fell and was swept out to sea.
Kellie Edwards, the counsel assisting the inquest into the missing 18-year-old told theCoroners Court in Byron Bay the coronial investigation has found no evidence he was reckless, engaged in dangerous physical activity, or was particularly interested in or drugs.
During its opening statements on Monday, the inquest heard Hayez was ejected from a bar in the holiday town without a chance to tell his friends on the night he vanished two years ago.
Theo was near the end of a backpacking trip around Australia when he went missing on the night of May 31, 2019.
Belgian teen Theo Hayez (pictured) was near the end of a backpacking trip around Australia when he vanished in Byron Bay, NSW, two years ago
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.
Ms Edwards told the NSW Coroners Court that police’s working theory is he tried to climb cliffs at Cosy Corner beach before he fell and presumably drowned.
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.
Laurent Hayez fought back tears as he addressed the media at the inquest of his son Theo’s disappearance in 2020
An inquest into the disappearance of missing backpacker Theo Hayez (pictured) in Byron Bay, the holiday hotspot where he was seen is expected to last two weeks
There is ‘no evidence at all’ to suggest he would kill himself, Ms Edwards said.
Theo 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 only learned he’d been ejected by security around 11pm during the police investigation. They were confused when they learned about 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 only had contact details for one of the people he was with.
The inquest heard on Monday Theo Hayez (pictured left with his girlfriend) was ejected from a bar in the holiday town without a chance to tell his friends on the night he vanished
Theo Hayez’s parents Laurent Hayez ( left ) and Vinciane Delforge (right) at Byron Bay Coroners Court on Monday as an inquest into his disappearance began
Theo’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, are sitting in the courtroom observing the proceedings.
Google account data shows Theo 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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The NSW Coroners Court has heard police’s working theory that Cleo tried to climb cliffs at Cosy Corner beach, fell and was swept out to sea. Pictured are police arriving at the inquest
The remains of Theo Hayez (pictured) have never been found, nor have his phone or clothes
Tragic deaths and disappearances in and around Byron Bay
Theo, an 18-year-old Belgian backpacker, disappeared after a night out at the Cheeky Monkeys nightclub in May 2019.
He was not reported missing for five days.
In June last year, Hayez’s cousin Lisa revealed that Google data had tracked Theo walking through thick bushland on the night of his disappearance, and suggested he could not have done so alone.
The strongest theory for Hayez’s disappearance remains that the backpacker fell from cliffs and was washed out to sea.
A coronial inquest into Hayez’s disappearance will begin in Byron Bay in November.
Théo Hayez went missing from Byron Bay on May 31, 2019 and had not been seen since
Ms Liddle, 42, was last seen in the Mooball area, between Byron Bay and Tweed Heads, in October 2019, but was not reported missing until January.
The former microbiologist had found herself homeless in Byron Bay and led a transient lifestyle before her death.
Police stumbled upon her remains while searching for Hayez.
Ms Liddle, 42, was last seen in the Mooball area, between Byron Bay and Tweed Heads, in October 2019, but was not reported missing until January
Erwan Ferrieux and Hugo Palmer
Erwan Ferrieux and his British friend Hugo Palmer, both 20, were reported missing during their holiday of a lifetime in 2019.
Police feared they had drowned in Port Macquarie after their belongings were found in the sand on Shelly Beach.
In June 2019, two human bones washed up – and forensic testing revealed they are most likely Mr Ferrieux’s.
None of Mr Palmer’s remains have been found.
The bones of French backpacker (right) who has been missing since February have washed up on a beach in New South Wales
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