Local film student Angelina Temporali was looking forward to her Tinder date with the suave Frenchman.
She certainly didn’t expect to be cast in the role of local detective in a story that ended with her date being locked in the back of a police paddywagon.
But that’s exactly what happened on November 18 in a case that serves as a warning to local online daters and the Byron shire’s van owners.
‘I matched with this French dude on Tinder two months ago and last Saturday night he messaged to say ‘do you want to hang out”,’ Ms Temporali recalls.
‘He ended up staying the night and the next morning we went to his van to get some food for brekkie.’
‘When I got in the van I saw a hat and I thought “I know I’ve seen that hat.. Where have I seen it?”
‘Then I remembered – I’d seen a photo from a girl who had stuff stolen from her van while she was at Wategoes.’
What Ms Temporali had inadvertently discovered was a case of theft in which Edouard Chene-Bernadie had stolen a hat, camera, skateboard and other items from the van of a young female traveller while she was parked at Wategoes Beach.
‘I had this little internal battle,’ Ms Temporali says of the discovery.
‘I was saying “don’t keep looking, don’t keep looking”, but I couldn’t help myself. I looked down and saw the hat and the camera – they were the same items I saw on the community board.’
The young woman pretended she hadn’t seen anything but when Edouard Chene-Bernadie jumped in the shower, she posted on the Byron Bay Community Board Facbook page.
‘My tinder date last night has your stuff in his van. Omg can’t even believe it,’ the message said.
Ms Temporali then messaged the victim of the theft, a young female traveller, who in turn notified police and then drove to the house herself with a female friend.
‘I was trying to keep him distracted by making coffee – I could see the girls looking into the van,’ Temporali says
‘When the police arrived I just slowly and calmly walked out of the house and said ‘he’s in the kitchen, go get him’.
Mr Chene-Bernardie was arrested and handcuffed. As the police walked the Frenchman down the stairs,the victim of the theft realised that he was wearing her jumper.
‘I just said “wow, you’re even wearing my jumper”,’ says the young theft victim, who has asked to remain anonymous.
‘He said “I just saw that your van was unlocked…” but didn’t say anything else.’
‘When we looked in his van we saw everything was there. And there were two more big bags full of stuff..’
The Echo has no evidence to suggest that these items were also stolen.
However on November 21 Mr Chene-Bernardie pleaded guilty to one count of larceny and one count of theft at Byron Local Court.
He was convicted and sentenced by Magistrate Greg Dunlevy to two community corrections orders of 18 months and six months respectively.
A community corrections order is a punishment given to criminals when the court deems that a jail sentence would be too harsh a penalty.
It can involve a range of different penalties ranging from community service to curfews to regular supervision by a community corrections officer.
‘She did such an amazing job,’ the young van-owner says of Ms Temporali’s actions.
‘She was really fast [in acting]. I mean you never imagine you’re with a guy having a date and then you see this [stolen] stuff. But she just acted normal until the police arrived.’
Both she and Ms Temporali have encountered Mr Chene-Bernardie since his arrest and have expressed concern about his presence in their vicinity.
‘I was in Byron two days ago and he was there in the street,’ the young van-owner says.
‘He was looking really cool you know? White shirt, short pants. When I saw him I just left and went to my van – I didn’t feel safe.
‘When I got to my van he was there on the other side of the street. I was scared because I think he followed me. I went straight to the police, but they said there was nothing they could do.
Ms Temporali also expressed concern about the fact that, having told her that Mr Chene-Bernardie would not return to her house, police then dropped him off to get his van without telling her.
‘I was so disappointed that the police had assured me he would never come back and then they brought him back without telling me,’ she says.
But Detective Inspector Matt Keho, the officer in charge of the Byron Bay Police Station defended his officers actions.
‘The actions by Police on Sunday the 18/11/18 were exceptional,’ he said.
‘I personally witnessed the patience, support and commitment shown to the victim of the original crime and the Police should be congratulated for their commitment.’