A woman says she spotted a young man who “looked dead” at the side of the road two days after Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez disappeared in Byron Bay.
Leesa Horn said she reported the incident to police on June 2 after a man in his 30s had flagged her down on the Pacific Highway near Coffs Harbour, 240km south of Byron Bay, at about 4.30am as another man lay flat on the ground, she told The Australian’s The Lighthouse podcast series.
Deciding not to stop as she felt something was “not right”, she later called police.
“I started crying when I’m driving off because I thought what if somebody’s really hurt and they need my help. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided to ring 000,” she said in a video she uploaded to Facebook regarding the incident.
She said police checked the area but could not find the two men she described.
It was only days later that Ms Horn learned of Mr Hayez’ disappearance as his face was spread across national media, with the beauty therapist immediately linking the incidents.
She called Crime Stoppers, telling police the man lying on the road was wearing light-coloured pants and black shoes – the same clothing Mr Hayez was wearing in CCTV that showed him leaving Cheeky Monkey’s bar on May 31.
“I told Crime Stoppers that I’m sure the guy I saw in the video was the guy lying on the road,” she said.
She said she did not hear from police again regarding the matter.
NSW Police have refused to comment on the matter as it is now in the hands of the coroner.
Police have said it is “inappropriate” to comment further, a response also given when questioned about a “bludgeon stick” found on the beach near the last ping of Mr Hayez’ mobile phone near Cape Byron lighthouse.
Private investigator Ken Gamble, who has been hired by the Hayez family to investigate his disappearance, told The Australian he had also been met with the same response from authorities when he attempted to meet to discuss unfolding inquiries.
In July, bones were found on a Port Macquarie beach, 150km south of Coffs Harbour, which DNA testing indicated were of missing French backpacker Erwan Ferrieux who had disappeared with Hugo Palmer at Shelly Beach in February.
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