Antoine Van Laethem, 19, made friends with missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez at the Wake Up Backpackers in Belongil on Friday, May 31 before the pair decided to go out for drinks that evening.
Antoine Van Laethem, 19, made friends with missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez at the Wake Up Backpackers in Belongil on Friday, May 31 before the pair decided to go out for drinks that evening. Aisling Brennan

'I feel worried about him... it's the worst thing'

A BELGIAN backpacker who was one of the last people to possibly see missing 18-year-old Theo Hayez in Byron Bay has expressed his sincere concern for his fellow traveller's welfare.

Antoine Van Laethem, 19, made friends with Theo at the Wake Up Backpackers in Belongil on Friday, May 31 before the pair decided to go out for drinks that evening.

The pair were spotted entering The Northern Hotel bottle shop in Byron Bay about 7.45pm on May 31 before heading to Cheeky Monkeys Bar on Jonson St later in the night.

Theo was last seen on CCTV leaving Cheeky Monkeys Bar about 11pm.

It is believed Theo was asked to leave the bar by security.

Mr Van Laethem said he sent Theo a text the following day which was never answered.

"We went out together after leaving the hostel and we arrived with some other people from the hostel and then everyone talked with other people," Mr Van Laethem said.

"I didn't see him leaving before me, I don't know when he left the bar before us. An hour later he was kicked out of Cheeky Monkeys.

"I can't tell what time I last saw him, we came together to Cheeky Monkeys but I didn't see him leaving the pub, maybe before 11pm.

"I sent him a message the day after but he never answered and six days later his cousin sent me and told me he'd gone missing for about a week."

Mr Van Laethem said he was worried for his new friend, but expressed his trust in the police to find him after he spoke with both Tweed Byron Police and Belgian Police officials.

"I feel worried about him, we still don't know what happened to Theo. I'm worried about his family also because I think it's the worst thing when you don't know what happened to someone," he said.

"It's the uncertainty and worrying.

"The Byron Bay community has helped out with a lot of the searches but it's now the police to keep going and searching for him."

Mr Van Laethem said he had thought about leaving Byron Bay but decided to stay to continue with his English lessons.

Police are continuing to search bushland between The Pass and Byron Bay Lighthouse this afternoon.

More to come.