‘I’ll never give up’: Theo Hayez’s father believes his missing son is still alive – but admits the fruitless month-long search in Byron Bay has been ‘torture’
- Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, went missing in Byron Bay on May 31
- The teenager was due to head home just a week later, and has not been seen
- His father says not knowing where his son is has been ‘inhuman torture’
- The man thanked Australian volunteers for their help, saying it kept him going
- He told Belgian media over the weekend he believed his son was still alive
The father of a Belgian teenager who disappeared on the final leg of his trip to Australia still believes his son is alive despite having not been sighted for a month.
Theo Hayez, 18, had been travelling through Australia with his cousin for months and was due to come home just days before he disappeared.
The teenager has not been seen since he left backpacker bar Cheeky Monkeys about 11pm on May 31, sparking a weeks-long search by locals and police.
Belgian police landed on the weekend, and are expected to accompany New South Wales police as observers in searches around Byron Bay in coming weeks.
Theo’s father, Laurent Hayez, arrived to assist the search about two weeks ago, telling media he had promised his youngest son he would bring his brother home.
Theo Hayez disappeared after leaving backpacker bar Cheeky Monkeys in Byron Bay on May 31
Theo Hayez’s father Laurent Hayez (pictured left) and cousin Lisa Hayez (right) have been in Australia helping volunteers with the search. Over the weekend, Mr Hayez said he believed the teenager was still alive
On Saturday, Mr Hayez told RTL not knowing where his son was like ‘inhuman torture’.
‘Every minute seems to last an hour… it’s endless,’ he said.
‘We spend an hour where we receive information that gives you hope, and five hours after, this information is denied.
‘I take a step forward and two steps back. It is an inhuman torture.’
The devastated father says he and Theo’s mother had considered all possibilities in the wake of the young man’s disappearance: whether he’d had an accident or was killed, if he just wanted to stay in Australia for longer, or if he had fallen in love.
But as the search goes on, Mr Hayez remains convinced his son is alive. With no trace, he says there is no evidence his son has been injured or killed.
‘I believe, I’ll never give up,’ he said.
Belgian police are expected to arrive this week to help with the search for Theo, as volunteers travel as far as Brisbane to share a missing poster of the teenager
Mr Hayez has spent weeks with Australian volunteers, most who have never met Theo, searching for his son. He says this outpouring of support from strangers has kept him going in some of his darkest moments.
‘If they weren’t there, I would be crying in my chair,’ he said.
‘I could not do this otherwise – it is this incredible momentum of solidarity that carries me and continues to give me hope.’
On Sunday, Theo’s cousin and travelling partner, Lisa Hayez, said she believed the arrival of Belgian police in Australia would help finally find the young man.
‘It’s going to help us, the most people on the case the better it is,’ she said, addressing media in Byron Bay.
‘I know they’re going to do it.
‘If the Australian police and Belgian police work together it’s going to be faster and everything. That’s the point.’
Theo’s family say they have no intentions to leave Australia until the young man is found.
Theo’s family say they have no intentions to leave Australia until the young man is found