The NSW Government, together with the NSW Police Force, has announced a $500,000 reward for information into the 2019 disappearance of Belgian man, Theo Hayez, in Byron Bay.
The 18-year-old was last seen about 11pm on Friday 31 May 2019 outside a nightclub on Jonson Street.
Police were alerted on Thursday 6 June 2019 when he 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 State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, Police Rescue Squad, Water Police, Operation Support Group officers, local SES volunteers, NSW Surf Lifesaving and the Byron Bay community – conducted extensive land, air and sea searches since this time.
Detectives established Strike Force Mulgray to investigate the circumstances surrounding his disappearance; however, despite the efforts of police, volunteers and the Byron Bay community, Theo has never been located.
The matter was referred to the NSW Coroner, with an inquest currently underway in the Coroner’s court.
A $500,000 NSW Government reward for information that leads to the discovery of Theo Hayez’s whereabouts or discloses the circumstances of his disappearance was announced this morning (Wednesday 23 February 2022).
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police, Paul Toole said he is hopeful the reward will encourage anyone who is yet to provide information to police to come forward.
“Theo was a young man who had his entire life ahead of him and his family cannot rest until they know what happened to him,” Minister Toole said.
“The pain of losing a loved one is bad enough, but the mystery surrounding this case only adds to that pain.
“Police investigating this case need our help to provide that crucial piece of the puzzle that can bring some comfort to the family and friends of Theo. If you know or think of anything, no matter how small, please phone Crime Stoppers,” Minister Toole said.
Tweed/Byron Police District Acting Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Brendon Cullen, said investigators hope this reward will bring Theo’s disappearance back to the forefront of people’s minds so detectives can provide answers to the family.
“Detectives want to ensure every avenue has been exhaustively examined and we are continuing to ask anyone who had any interaction with Theo after he left that Friday night to contact us.
“We have worked closely with Theo’s family and friends here in Australia and over in Belgium from the beginning of our investigation into his whereabouts. We all want to have answers as to what happened to him,” Det A/Supt Cullen said.
Theo’s family have issued a statement, thanking the NSW Government and NSW Police for their ongoing support in pursuing what happened to their son.
"We are very grateful to the NSW Police and NSW Government for their approval of this reward for information that can help understand what happened to Theo on the night of May 31 2019, in Byron Bay.
“We have tried to reach many people already, in the local community, in Australia and overseas. Our hope with the reward is to reach out to more people as well as motivate people to talk to the authorities and overcome any barriers they might have to doing so.
“$500,000 can change someone's life. Please, if you have any information that can help us, come forward now, don't wait any longer."
Investigations under Strike Force Mulgray continue.
Anyone with information about Theo’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.