The devastated father of a Belgian teenager who has been missing in Australia for 17 days promised his youngest son he would bring the 18-year-old home.
Laurent Hayez travelled to Byron Bay to help search for his son Theo, who went missing in the seaside suburb on May 31.
He was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey bar at about 11pm and never returned to the WakeUp! Backpacker hostel, where his passport and belongings were found.
Police have since released previously unseen footage of Theo and a friend at a local convenience store at about 7:45pm on Friday May 31 before heading to the bar.
Police have since released previously unseen footage of Theo (right) and a friend (left) at a local convenience store at about 7:45pm on Friday May 31 before heading to the bar
The footage gives a clearer picture of the last known clothing Theo was wearing; a black jumper, stone coloured pants and a grey cap with black shoes
The footage gives a clearer picture of the last known clothing Theo was wearing, and police hope the new CCTV footage may lead to new information regarding his disappearance.
His father made a tearful plea to the Australian public to not give up on his son, and said if witnesses were ‘scared to come forward’ they should send in anonymous tips.
‘I promised Theo’s little brother, Lucas, that I would bring his brother home,’ he said.
‘Please, help me keep my promise to him.’
The fresh appeal comes after his cousin and travelling companion Lisa Hayez revealed a WhatsApp message was sent from his phone in the early hours of June 1.
Mr Hayez said he ‘respected the [app’s strict confidentiality] rules’ but said in this circumstance, the information on the app may be crucial to the investigation.
The devastated father of a Belgian teenager who has been missing in Australia for 17 days promised his youngest son he would bring the 18-year-old home
The 18-year-old was looking forward to returning home to start his university course studying maths and science following and eight month trip around Australia
‘We know Theo used WhatsApp the night he disappeared. We understand the politics about confidentiality and respect that. But this is a question of providing assistance to a person in grave danger.
‘It is vital that investigators get access to Theo’s WhatsApp account without delay. Every minute counts.’
On Sunday Miss Hayez posted an appeal on Facebook, asking if anyone knows who he last contacted.
She wrote: ‘Unfortunately it takes ages to WhatsApp to give any information to the police so if you could share this post so someone who knows someone who works for WhatsApp could help us to get these informations ASAP!’
Theo’s phone last pinged at 1:42pm on June 1st, but police are concerned the device may have been placed on sleep mode.
Police have been working alongside their Belgian counterparts to build a character profile on Theo and agree his disappearance is out of character.
‘We’re baffled as to what’s occurred, but let me just say – we’re not ruling anything out. We want to conduct all lines of inquiry and we’re keeping it open as we speak,’ a police spokesman said.
He confessed the investigation was made more difficult due to the delay from when he was last seen to when he was reported missing.
But the police force have promised to ‘not leave a single stone unturned’ in the search for the missing teen.
Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District confirmed they are expanding their search around Byron Bay.
Extensive land, air and sea searches have been conducted to the east and north-east of town, as well as near Belongil Beach and Cape Byron.
Police hope the new CCTV footage may lead to new information regarding his disappearance
Theo was travelling on an eight-month gap year with his cousin and was due to return home a week after he vanished.
His mother Vinciane Delforge told a French broadcaster in Belgium she is holding out hope her son is safe and well – but said his disappearance is entirely out of character.
‘We would love to believe that he met a girl and had a fling… and that’s why there’s no sign of life,’ Ms Delforge said.
‘But that just isn’t him, that’s not his style.’
She said her son was a ‘meticulous planner’ who had thoroughly researched his gap year to Australia in the months prior to leaving his home town.
‘He is a conscientious, organised, responsible and attentive boy,’ she said.