NSW Police have officially suspended the search for Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, meaning that officers and emergency services will undertake no further physical searching unless or until new information comes to light.
The move was announced in a media release this afternoon.
‘It is with much sadness that I must advise you that our search operation for Théo Hayez has been suspended,’ the Officer in Charge of Byron Police, Detective Inspector Matthew Kehoe said in a personal statement following the announcement.
‘This was not an easy decision but has been done in communication with experts and importantly, Théo’s family,’ he said.
‘It has been a very emotional day for Théo’s family members and those involved in this operation and it will no doubt take an emotional toll in our community.
‘As per the Region Commander’s and Commander’s comments I would like to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has assisted and supported in our efforts to find Théo.’
The 18-year-old was last seen about 11pm on Friday 31 May 2019 at the Cheeky Monkeys bar on Jonson Street.
Police were alerted on Thursday 6 June when Theo failed to return to his hostel and could not be contacted or located.
Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District with assistance from several NSW Police Force units including the SCC Homicide Squad, local SES volunteers, NSW Surf Lifesaving and the Byron Bay community have conducted extensive land, air and sea searches since this date.
Police said a further search was conducted today utilising the assistance of the NSW Police Rescue Squad near the Byron Bay lighthouse area. Three officers from the Belgian Federal Police arrived at the weekend to support the ongoing investigation in an observer capacity.
While police have suspended the full-scale physical search, the investigations are ongoing.
Tweed/Byron Police Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell thanked the community and the local volunteers who assisted with the search on behalf of the NSW Police Force, Belgian authorities and Theo’s family.
‘It’s times like this which shows the strength of our community. We want to thank each and every person who assisted and who provided support,’ he said.
‘Throughout the entire investigation we have been liaising with the Belgian Federal Police, keeping them informed of our progress and working collaboratively with them.
‘Belgium authorities have been appreciative of the work being undertaken. We met with Théo’s family today and our thoughts are them here in Australia and abroad.’ Superintendent Roptell said.