Remains found in Australia are not those of Belgian backpacker Théo

Remains found in Australia are not those of Belgian backpacker Théo
Théo in a photo issued by the Belgian federal police .

Human remains found in the area near Byron Bay in Australia in July are not those of the Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez, missing since May 31 last year.

The remains were found by police were found during a search for traces of an Australian woman, named Thea Liddle. The 42-year-old was last seen in the area in October 2019.

Police at the time said the remains were “highly unlikely” to be Théo, and forensic examination carried out since has confirmed that view.

Theo, aged 18, left his home in Overijse outside Brussels in late 2018 to go on a working holiday to Australia, and had been due to return home in June last year.

The last sighting was on May 31 at 23.00, when he was seen leaving a bar in Byron Bay.

The last message sent on his phone was a WhatsApp message sent later. At 13.42 on June 1, his phone pinged for the last time at a mast close to where the remains were found.

His family raised the alarm on June 6 after not hearing from him when he was so close to returning home. On the same day, the alarm was raised by the hostel where he had been staying after he failed to check out. His belongings, including his passport, had been left behind in his room.

Despite an international effort, no trace of the young man has been reported since then. A hat thought to have been his was examined for DNA evidence and found positive, the family said. The hat was found close to the mast where his phone pinged.

New South Wales police have now given up the search for Théo, and handed the file over to the coroner.

The remains found in July have now been confirmed as those of Thea Liddle, who police say “led an itinerant lifestyle”. She was last seen in October 2019, though her disappearance was only reported in January.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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