Australia

Accident or murder? These are the two competing theories on Theo Hayez’s death following coroner’s finding

This article contains references to suicide.
A coroner has concluded that but she is unable to determine the cause or manner of his death.
NSW 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.

These included that he had a terrible accident as he tried to climb towards 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 31 May 2019 when he was ejected from the Cheeky Monkeys bar in Byron Bay.
Police were alerted six days later when 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.

The search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez was conducted around the Cape Byron Lighthouse and State Conservation Area. Source: AAP / Regi Varghese

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.
Ms 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.
She concluded by making recommendations to cut the red tape involved in searching for missing persons.
Readers seeking crisis support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged up to 25). More information and support with mental health is available at and on 1300 22 4636.
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