Belgian Police En Route To Byron Bay As Community Refuses To Give Up On Missing Teen
The mother of missing Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez has arrived in Byron Bay, as the search for the teenager draws to a close after nearly a month.
10 daily can now reveal that Belgian police will also travel to the NSW north coast in the coming days joining what has been a “baffling” investigation for local police, who have found close to no trace of missing Théo since he was last seen in the late hours of May 31.
When they arrive, investigators from Théo’s native Belgium will undoubtedly also meet with the dedicated group of Byron Bay locals who have tirelessly searched for Théo since he was first reported missing.
Christos Tsesmetzis has been one of the locals leading the community effort. When 10 daily spoke to Tsesmetzis, he had just returned from an emotional meeting with the family hours after Théo’s mother arrived.
Théo’s parents were joined by several other close family members, including his cousin Lisa, who has been leading the search in Byron Bay for weeks.
Théo’s younger brother Lucas remains in Belgium. His father, Laurent, has promised his younger son that he would bring his brother home.
It’s now been more than three weeks since the search for Théo began, but Tsesmetzis hasn’t given up hope on finding him. He has never met the 18-year-old but describes him as a ‘brother’.
On Tuesday, Tsesmetzis said his meeting with Théo’s family only strengthened his resolve to keep searching.
“It was extremely emotional but also quite powerful and I think that’s why it all sort of came together in my head when I saw them and we spent a couple of hours with them, as far as why I threw myself into this from day dot,” Tsesmetzis said.
We cry on each other’s shoulders a lot.
Laurent, has been in the country since early last week, after a crowdfunding campaign raised enough money for him to fly over and help the search efforts.
“Laurent often says to me, he grabs me and says: ‘oh brother, people have the power’ and he cries on my shoulder,” Tsesmetzis said.
Community Of Hope
The Byron community’s commitment to help the Belgian family has been repeatedly praised by police and Théo’s family alike.
Even weeks after his disappearance, up to 60 people still turn up every day in the desperate hope that they will find even a trace of the missing teen.
Those who cannot help on foot, have brought food, drink and supplies for community, SES and police searchers.
Others have put up posters across the Shire, donated drones and offered their skills by abseiling down dangerous cliff faces to search for Théo.
“The community has banded together although we do still need so much more help,” Tsesmetzis said.
Tsesmetzis said they were “really welcoming” the arrival of the Belgium investigators this week. He believes it will give a renewed push for people to come forward with any information, keep Théo fresh in their minds and give police a much-needed resource boost.
Physical Search Hampered By Weather
Over the weekend, the physical search for Théo was suspended by NSW Police after weeks of specialist, dog, ground and water searches.
A spokesperson told 10 daily that while no decision had been made whether to permanently suspend the search, police were reviewing whether to continue the physical search on a day-by-day basis based on an assessment of new evidence.
Tsesmetzis said while locals were keen to continue their own physical search, bad weather had hampered efforts this week.
Some areas are so treacherous that even they [police] can’t get into, which is heart wrenching to say the least.
Tsesmetzis said there was still hope someone may come forward with CCTV footage if it had not yet been automatically wiped off their system.
He said efforts were also being made to contact homeowners of rental properties to allow people to search the yards of properties left empty during the off-season.
“We’re physically not allowed to enter these gardens to even search for a cap or a phone.”
“If we can get Théo’s phone that would mean the world.”
Théo was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkeys bar at 11pm on May 31 after a night out.
All his belongings were discovered inside his hostel room after the alarm was raised of his disappearance.
He was due to return home to Belgium last week, after backpacking in Australia since November last year.
Théo is described as approximately 180-190 centimetres tall, with a thin build and blond hair.
He was last seen wearing a black hooded jumper, beige pants and black shoes.
Anyone with information is being urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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