Belgian’s 2019 disappearance in Australia still unexplained

The disappearance of a young Belgian backpacker in Australia three years ago remains a mystery after an inquest ended without a conclusive finding

SYDNEY — The disappearance of a young Belgian backpacker in Australia has confounded authorities for more than three years, and his fate remained a mystery after an inquest concluded Friday.

A coroner ruled that 18-year-old Theo Hayez likely died soon after he left a nightclub in the coastal town of Byron Bay, but she couldn’t say whether it was from an accident or if he was killed by others.

Suicide appeared to be highly unlikely and there was no reason for Hayez to intentionally vanish, said New South Wales State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan. But she said she couldn’t make a finding on the two theories put forward at the inquest into his disappearance.

One was that Hayez had a fatal accident as he tried to climb towards the lighthouse at Byron Bay. The other was that one or more people caused his death and disposed of his body.

“Sadly, there is just insufficient evidence before me to substantiate or exclude either theory,” O’Sullivan said.

Jean-Philippe Pector, the godfather of Hayez, told reporters outside the Byron Bay Court House that the family knew there wouldn’t be any breakthrough after going through the inquest process, but they remained hopeful the “main question” would one day be answered.

“It’s obviously a really tough moment because it’s the end of a tough process,” Pector said. “But I think it’s best that the ca