Search for missing backpacker at Byron Bay turns to the water

A desperate hunt for a missing Belgian backpacker continues as police now extend their search to the ocean on the NSW Far North Coast.

Theo Hayez, an 18-year-old man from Belgium, was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey's bar in Byron Bay at about 11pm on May 31.

Police were alerted on June 6 when he failed to return to Wake Up! Hostel in Byron Bay and could not be contacted or located.

His belongings, including his passport were untouched in his room, while his mobile phone and bank cards haven’t been used since his disappearance.

Friends and family of the teen have appealed for public assistance in finding him. Source: Facebook/Théo Hayez

Following an extensive search on land, police announced on Wednesday they are working with NSW Surf Lifesaving to explore the surf along a Byron Bay beach.

“Today, police will be utilising a specialist drone, while being assisted by New South Wales Surf Lifesaving from the water at Belongil Beach,” NSW Police announced.

Tweed/Byron Police District Chief Inspector Michael Dempsey thanked the community for their efforts in searching for Mr Hayez.

“Police would like to acknowledge and thank the local State Emergency Services staff and community members who have searched tirelessly over the last three days,” he said.

Strong community effort

Chief Inspector Dempsey said the teen’s family has been “touched by the kindness” of the community.

Police continue to appeal for public assistance into his disappearance and are asking with anyone with CCTV in the area to come forward.

Mr Hayez was last seen outside of Cheeky Monkey's bar. Source: NSW Police
Theo has not been seen since leaving the Cheeky Monkey nightclub about 11pm last Friday night. Source: Facebook/Théo Hayez

Mr Hayez's mobile phone records have helped investigators narrow down the search area to east of the Byron Bay CBD and in and around bushland to the northeast.

"Our last recorded phone records indicate the phone was used in and around this area," Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Kehoe said in Byron Bay on Monday.

CCTV footage, the last known sighting of Mr Hayez, showed him walking down a footpath outside the bar he had visited, initially with his hands in his pockets, then staring down at his phone.

"We haven't located anything of significance thus far but our search continues ... It is very unusual behaviour from Theo. He is usually very regular in the contact with his family, hence we do have concerns for his welfare."

Mr Hayez is described as being of Caucasian appearance, approximately 180cm to 190cm tall, with a thin build and blond hair.

He was last seen wearing a black hooded jumper, beige pants and black shoes.

Anyone with any information on Mr Hayez is asked to contact Byron Bay Police on 02 6685 9499.

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