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A childhood friend of the missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez recalled the last messages they exchanged the night the 18-year-old disappeared in Byron Bay.
Lou Gymorey, who went to elementary school with Theo in Belgium, kept in touch with the 18-year-old during his trips to Australia via Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
On the day he disappeared, May 31, 2019, Gymorey and Theo had been chatting about the fact that one of his favorite bands, U2, was going to tour Australia the following September.
Gymorey sent an Instagram post from the band to Theo, whom he had renamed ‘From Cowboy’ on his Messenger profile, from his home in Brussels.
He asked his friend if he was going to stay in Australia to watch the show.
‘Oh damn it,’ Theo replied at 4.05pm Byron Bay time.
Do you know when they will come? Where?’ he replied.
Gymorey responded a few hours later telling her that the date was September, but that she wasn’t sure exactly.
“No, ha ha, but it’s like September what.”
Theo answered around 12:30 in the morning from Byron Bay. Well, in September, what?
Gymorey then sent three messages to Theo at 2.33am Byron Bay time.
“He did not receive these messages,” Ms. Gymorey said in the investigation.
She said the messages now appeared to have been opened.
“Because someone opened his Facebook account, I think it was the police, but I’m not sure, so now it’s not the same as what we can see on the screen.”
Gymorey took a screenshot of the exchange the day after Theo’s cousin Lisa posted on Facebook that she was missing.
She said there was nothing unusual about the exchange with the backpacker and that a French expression she used at the beginning of one of the messages suggested that it was definitely sent by Theo.
“He used ‘Ba’ at the beginning of the message and not everyone would use it, but he would, so in my opinion it would be surprising if someone who did not speak French sent that message,” she said.
Ms. Gymorey said in the investigation that she and Theo had previously discussed a French show, Burger Quiz, which he often watched on YouTube.
On the opening day of the investigation, it was revealed that phone data showed Theo watched clips from the show in the last few hours before his phone stopped receiving data.
Ms. Gymorey found it strange that Theo saw clips from the show the night he disappeared.
‘I think he responded to my message because he looks like him but, I don’t know, it could be anyone else who speaks French …’
‘The fact that you’ve watched 30 seconds of Burger Quiz, it amazes me because it’s fun, but it’s not something you would watch when you don’t have much battery left on the beach.
“Maybe he was showing it to someone else … I can’t believe he said, there’s a new episode, let’s watch it now.”
She said that he would ‘analyze’ situations carefully before acting and that she ‘did not acknowledge’ his actions the night he disappeared.
The second witness on day five was Tom Phillips, former manager of WakeUp! hostel in Byron Bay where Theo stayed.
He admitted that, in hindsight, Theo’s absence from the shelter should have been notified by the police earlier.
Theo checked in on May 29 and was scheduled to leave on June 3, but the alarm didn’t go off until June 6 after his passport fondly kept his belongings in his room.
It was evident that the shelter called Theo’s phone three times and sent an email to his Hotmail account between June 3-6 to find out when he was leaving, before alerting the police.
“In hindsight, it would have been great to have done it [earlier],” Phillips said.
Yesterday, Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez’s father stormed out of court during testimony by one of the security guards who kicked his son out of a Byron Bay nightclub before disappearing.
On the fourth day of the investigation into the teenager’s mysterious disappearance in Byron Bay on the night of May 31, 2019, Laurent Hayez and other members of Theo’s family listened from the public gallery as security guards at Cheeky’s nightclub Monkey bore witness.
Security guard Shannon Mackie said in the investigation that he removed the 18-year-old from Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay around 11 p.m. on May 31, 2019, hours before he disappeared, and decided he was “ getting closer to intoxication. ”
David Evenden, an attorney for the Hayez family, asked Mackie how he cared for intoxicated people once they were expelled from the club.
Mackie said that if a person requested it, the guards would notify someone inside the club to tell them that his friend was outside.
“We’d sit them down, bring them some water, make sure they’re okay …” he said.
‘We could call them a cab, just make sure they’re okay to get home safely.
The comment made Laurent Hayez shake his head in disagreement. He waved his hand and left the courtroom.
Mr. Hayez and other family members have traveled from Belgium for the investigation.
On Monday, the attorney who attended the coroner, Ms. Edwards, had told the investigation that the decision to expel Theo on his own without any possibility of telling his friends had caused “great distress” to his family .
CCTV footage showed Mr. Mackie
CCTV footage showed Mr. Mackie escorting Theo to the front of the nightclub before asking him to stand on a red X, where he was scanned.
Theo chatted briefly with a man in a white hoodie who was at the front of the queue to enter the club before Mr. Mackie called him.
He leans in and based on his police statement, he told Theo, ‘I took you outside tonight because I think you are getting close to intoxication and you will not be allowed to re-enter the venue.’
An obedient Theo said ‘OK’, and then he walked away to the left of the club.
When asked if Theo looked intoxicated in the video, Mackie replied, “Not in that footage.”
Ms. Edwards asked if Mr. Mackie was certain of her assessment that Theo was approaching poisoning.
“Yes, I do,” he replied.
Mrs. Edwards asked if Mr. Mackie could smell the alcohol on Theo’s breath once he had taken him outside.
“No,” replied Mr. Mackie.
When asked why he was so sure Theo was approaching poisoning, Mackie said the club’s policy was to err on the side of caution.
“If I see signs, obviously I will believe they are getting close to poisoning [and] because the legislation is so strict in NSW, I always take that precaution and will remove the customer,” he said.
“Because he’s strict … Would you accept that he may have made a mistake?” Asked Mrs. Edwards.
“Yes, possibly,” Mr. Mackie replied.
The head of security, Mr. Hill, was standing in the entrance of the club while Mr. Mackie conducted the evaluation of Theo.
He agreed that he was not paying full attention to the scene because he trusted Mr. Mackie and “it was not my eviction.”
When asked about his police statement about Theo’s speech, Mr. Hill said: “Right now, and looking at those images, when I was talking to Shannon, I must have listened.”
Is it possible that he is wrong to listen to his speech? Mrs. Edwards asked.
“It could be, it could have been a different eviction,” replied Mr. Hill. He could be remembering another move.
There were another 15 customer evictions on the same night.
Hill agreed that the footage did not suggest Theo was drunk.
Mrs. Edwards asked Mr. Hill about the club’s policy on removing people.
“It is the case that there is a required number of people who must be expelled in one night to make it appear that you are complying with the law,” she asked.
“No,” replied Mr. Hill.
Mrs. Edwards asked, ‘Would you ever do it to get some hotter women in the room and get rid of some men?’
‘No’, she replied.
Both guards were also asked if they ever witnessed the spike in drinking at Cheeky Monkey’s. They both insisted that it never happened at the club.
Theo Hayez seen checking his phone after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub around 11 p.m.
Other witnesses told the court that Theo only bought two beers at Cheeky Monkey’s and that it was unlikely that he would drink heavily before leaving the shelter.
Ms Ilsmann said in the investigation that she saw another German backpacker who was with the group at Cheeky Monkey’s, Annika Wachter, the next day and found out that she planned to travel to Sydney on a Greyhound bus with Theo.
She then she met Ms. Wachter later in Sydney and discovered that Theo had disappeared.
“When I asked her if she was on the Greyhound, she said no,” Ms. Ilsmann said in the investigation.
Ms Wachter, from Dossenheim near Heidelberg in Germany, told the court on Wednesday that she did not see Theo stumble when he entered the bar or participated in any drinking games.
“Everyone was happy and enjoying the dance and he wasn’t really wild,” she said via video link.
We all have two or three drinks. He was a little tipsy, but not totally drunk.
Ms Wachter did not see Theo being asked to leave the club and she did not learn of his disappearance until a few days later when he arrived in Sydney.
Wednesday’s investigation found that the Belgian teenager did a bizarre Google search minutes before he was kicked out of Cheeky Monkey’s for looking drunk.
The video that was shown on the third day of the investigation into his disappearance revealed him sitting in a bar booth in deep conversation with the Dutch backpacker, Sander Stadegaard.
But Google search data on his phone reveals that during the chat, he searched for information about a little-known little town an hour from Byron called Coraki.
After leaving the club, instead of walking back to his hostel, Theo headed in the opposite direction on the other side of town, taking a dark and treacherous path to a remote beach.
They never saw him again.
Lou Gymorey Quick and Facts
- Theo Hayez’s childhood friend Lou Gymorey recalls final text messages with him
- They discussed one of his favourite bands U2 coming to Australia
- Eventually three of her messages to him went unanswered after 2am
- Shannon Mackie was the guard who removed Theo Hayez from Byron Bay club
- He said friends of intoxicated patrons were told their friend was outside
- Mr Hayez shook his head, waved his hand and left the courtroom at this point
- Shannon Mackie said that on CCTV footage, Theo did not appear drunk
- Guard Brad Hill said he may have been mistaken Theo’s speech was slurred