Police and the NSW government are offering a massive incentive to anyone who can help them crack the case of missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.
A mammoth $500,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the whereabouts of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, the NSW government and police have announced.
The major development comes almost three years after the 18-year-old went missing from the Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub in Byron Bay on May 31, 2019.
At the time the case grabbed widespread national attention with an extensive air, land and sea search instigated to find Mr Hayez.
Deputy Premier and Police Minister Paul Toole said he was hopeful the reward would encourage anyone who is yet to provide information to police to come forward.
“Theo was a young man who had his entire life ahead of him and his family cannot rest until they know what happened to him,” he said.
“The pain of losing a loved one is bad enough, but the mystery surrounding this case only adds to that pain.
“Police investigating this case need our help to provide that crucial piece of the puzzle that can bring some comfort to the family and friends of Theo. If you know or think of anything, no matter how small, please phone Crime Stoppers,”
Mr Hayez was reported missing by staff at WakeUp! Backpacker hostel after failing to check out a week after he was last seen at Cheeky Monkey’s.
Google tracking data showed the teenager took a jagged path down the eastern side of Cape Byron on the night he disappeared.
He is then thought to have wandered through thick vegetation before returning to the beach within 10 minutes.
Police believe he may have dropped his phone and followed it into the water but his heartbroken family have doubts about the theory.
“We are now coming up to three years since Theo’s disappearance and we believe this reward may be one of our last opportunities to find answers about what happened to Theo,” his father, Laurent Hayez, said.
“A key question that we are seeking to answer and to address is whether he was with someone on the night of May 31, 2019, which we strongly believe to be the case.”
An inquest into the disappearance is under way in the NSW Coroner’s Court.
Byron Police District Acting Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Brendon Cullen, said investigators hope the reward will bring Theo’s disappearance back to the forefront of people’s minds.
“Detectives want to ensure every avenue has been exhaustively examined and we are continuing to ask anyone who had any interaction with Theo after he left that Friday night to contact us,” he said.
“We have worked closely with Theo’s family and friends here in Australia and over in Belgium from the beginning of our investigation into his whereabouts. We all want to have answers as to what happened to him.”