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Byron Shire
January 26, 2021

Grey cap like Théo’s found near Tallow Beach

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Vinciane and Laurent in Belgium with their son Lucas who is Théo’s younger brother. Photo supplied.

UPDATED: Friday July 19, 8am

Eve Jeffery

There has been much in the media this week about missing Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez.

Firstly a heartfelt thank you to the Byron community, then reports that parents Laurent and Vinciane believe that their son may be trapped in a commune, and yesterday, news that 10 days ago volunteers found a baseball cap very like the one worn by Hayez on the day he went missing.

The hat is now with police who will DNA test it to see if it is the one belonging to the 18-year-old.

A source told Echonetdaily that about half a dozen volunteers and Théo’s parents were in the party who found the hat, a pale grey cap with a Puma logo on the front. The hat was located in bushland near Byron Bay close to the place that his mobile last ‘pinged’ the nearest phone tower, about 50 metres into the bush at top end of Tallow Beach.

The police were called immediately and they took it for forensic testing. To date there has been no results of those tests.

Laurent Hayez, who left Australia last Saturday, contacted Echonetdaily from Belgium with a thank-you message and a photo of himself with his son Lucas and Vinciane. Laurent is spending precious time with Lucas and re-charging before he heads back to Australia mid-August.

Laurent says that Lucas, who is 15, had been with his maternal family in Corsica while he and Vinciane were in Australia, but is now home. ‘Lucas is fine,’ he said. ‘He spent good times with his cousins and Vinciane’s family.

‘When I return, Vinciane will stay in Belgium to take care of him.’

Laurent says the community at home has been very supportive. ‘The whole Belgian community is affected,’ he said. ‘We receive a lot of attention from the whole country.’

Incorrect reports causing the family stress

Some of the reports saying that Vinciane and Laurent are not happy with police and the investigation are incorrect.

‘I’m troubled to read those reports,’ Laurent told Echonetdaily early this morning. ‘Vinciane and I have nothing but respect for the Belgian and Australian police.

‘While they are not conducting physical searches at the moment, they are still looking for Théo.

‘This is a complex case and the police have a lot of information to go over.

‘The incredible volunteers of Byron Bay continue to search the area but anything that is found needs to be verified and, like everything else, that takes time. It’s frustrating but it’s part of a thorough investigation.

‘There are many theories circulating and some of them are plausible. We have spoken about some of those theories before but they remain theories. We need solid evidence so we must give investigators the opportunity to gather and verify that evidence.

‘We do believe that there are witnesses that haven’t yet come forward. We believe that Théo did not spend the early hours of June 1 alone.

‘We need to hear from anyone who saw Théo that night and we understand that they might need to do that anonymously. Luckily in Australia that can be done through crime stoppers. I beg anyone with information to come forward.

‘I am in Belgium now with my youngest son Lucas. He needs answers, we all do.’

A website about looking for Théo

Locally, a website has been mounted to both give and receive information about Théo’s disappearance.

The site answers many of the frequently asked questions from what Théo was wearing on the night, to clarification about the fellow who was pictured with him in the bottle shop, the involvement of psychics and maps of the areas that have already been searched.

The site also provides many points of contact for anyone who may have information, including a private post office box where anonymous information can be delivered.

As Théo’s family regroup in Belgium, Laurent says he is heading back to Australia feeling positive for a good outcome. ‘We are still feeling hopeful,’ he said. ‘But, we are being realistic as well.’

‘If Théo has left this poor Earth, and is currently having fun with whales, turtles and dolphins – Vinciane, Lucas and I, while looking at the beautiful smile of Théo on the pictures of his Australian adventure, are relieved to see that he spent the last six months (of his too short life …) in a beautiful country, meeting wonderful people.’

You can keep up-to-date with the search on the Looking For Théo Hayez website.

You can send anonymous information to PO Box 208, Suffolk Park, 2481.

You can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000 or at https://www.crimestoppers.com.au/

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