NBN News | LOVED ONES SHARE THEIR PAIN DURING INQUEST IN CAIRNSJayden Penno-Tompsett went missing during a New Years Eve roadtrip.Cairns court: Jayden Penno-Tompsett inquest set for May after Charters  Towers disappearance | Cairns Post


CCTV vision of missing man Jayden Penno-Tompsett, last seen at a roadhouse in Charters Towers on the Flinders Highway on December 31.Source:Supplied

Missing since: 
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Last seen: 
Charter Towers QLD
Responsible jurisdiction: 
Year of birth: 
Distinguishing Features: 
Tattoo upper right arm - Mexican female face Tattoo lower right arm - MITCH RIP


Police have released CCTV images of Jayden Penno-Tompsett in the early hours of December 31, 2017, at a roadhouse on Thompson Street (Flinders Highway) in Charters Towers, QLD.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett was travelling from NSW to Cairns. He has not been seen since.

Police and family hold concerns for his welfare as he has not made any contact with them, since this date which is out of character.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett is described as Caucasian in appearance, 175cms tall and mousey brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black singlet, navy blue board shorts, and black and red thongs.

If you have information that may assist police to locate Jayden please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

                                                                                  CORONERS COURT OF QUEENSLAND


CITATION: Inquest into the death of Jayden Joseph Penno-Tompsett

TITLE OF COURT: Coroners Court of Queensland


FILE NO(s): 2018/527

DELIVERED ON: 7 May 2021


HEARING DATE(s): 11 Feb 2021, 13 April 2021, 4-6 May 2021

FINDINGS OF: Nerida Wilson, Northern Coroner

Issues for Inquest

5. The following issues were set for inquest:

i. The findings required by section 45(1) & (2) of the Coroners Act 2003, namely; whether or not Jayden Joseph Penno-Tompsett is in fact deceased and, if so, how, when and where he died and what caused his death; and

ii. The circumstances surrounding the death

Witnesses required to give evidence in public interest that would tend to incriminate (s39 Coroners Act 2003)

6. Pursuant to section 39(2) Coroners Act 2003 I considered that it was in the public interest for the following witnesses to give evidence that would otherwise tend to incriminate them and I required them to give evidence:

• Witness 7 (identity subject to non publication order)

• Jed Wakefield

• Callan McDougall

• Timothy Westcott

• Lucas Tattersall

7. Their evidence, and any derivative evidence, is not admissible against them in any other proceeding, other than a proceeding for perjury.

Witnesses called to give oral evidence

1. Ms Rachel Penno

2. Detective Sergeant Peter Edwards

3. Sergeant Kirsty Sutherland

4. Senior Sergeant Jim Whitehead

5. Mr Lionel Murphy

6. Mr Lloyd Lavery

7. Witness 7

8. Jed Wakefield

9. Callan McDougall

10. Timothy Westcott

11. Lucas Tattersall


8. Jayden Joseph Penno-Tompsett was born on 23 September 1995 and was aged 22 years at the time of his disappearance on 31 December 2017.

9. Jayden lived in Newcastle for most, if not all of his life, and had a very close knit and wide circle of friends, many from his school years. He lived mostly with his mother, having returned from Western Australia earlier in 2017 where he lived for a period of time with his father. Mr Thompsett recounted (in a closing statement to the Inquest) the time with his son as a very happy and important time for them. His mother described Jayden as a young man with a beautiful and generous nature.

10. Regrettably at the time of his disappearance Jayden was beset by a number of personal stressors, including his recent loss of employment, conflict with his family, including stealing his mother’s car, conflict with other persons, including a neighbour who apparently chased him with a shovel, a relationship breakup and loss of his driver’s licence. He had fallen back in with an old crowd upon returning from Western Australia and re-engaged in illicit drug use.

11. Not long prior to his disappearance Jayden’s family became worried about his declining mental health and his concerned mother set about delivering him to the Emergency Department of the Mater Hospital in Newcastle for a mental health assessment. Jayden bolted from the vehicle when his mother stopped at traffic lights adjacent to the hospital and essentially, he ‘did a runner’ before admission to the hospital.

12. His mother later located him and returned him home. Jayden was resistant to any mental health intervention fearing he would be involuntarily admitted, and he therefore chose to actively avoid police.

13. On 14 December 2017 overwhelmed by the events of his life he had threatened to jump off Red Head Bluff to take his life.

14. From 14 December 2017 he maintained only limited verbal communication with his family and was not thereafter seen by them, refusing to present himself at either the family home or the local police station. He was by then formally registered in NSW as a missing person and he remained a missing person in New South Wales at the time he departed for Queensland. NSW Police records indicate they engaged with Jayden on 4 occasions between the months of November and December 2017 (immediately prior to his departure from NSW), all involving matters of his mental health and welfare.

15. Jayden’s mother in her evidence indicated that she became aware that Jayden owed money to drug suppliers at the time he left NSW for drugs purchased by him on ‘tick’ (credit). Her concern in that regard led to her long held belief that Jayden’s disappearance could have something to do with retribution sought by others.

16. Jayden’s mother Ms Rachel Penno presented as a candid and concerned mother and witness. She has been a staunch advocate for her son since his disappearance and remains unrelenting in her quest to find him, and to obtain the truth about these circumstances of his disappearance. She continues to hold a view that foul play was involved in Jayden’s disappearance.

17. There is an acceptance by both Ms Penno and Mr Thompsett that Jayden is deceased.

18. Ms Penno’s provided a background to Jayden’s life and it is helpful to recount some of that evidence.

19. Jayden was hyperactive from a young age. At aged 16 years he became involved with drugs including the use of ‘ice’ and marijuana. His behaviours when under the influence of those illicit substances changed his personality. He would become irrational, including on occasion smashing up his mother’s house.

20. Ms Penno said his behaviour would often manifest as mood swings and could result in rage. He would act impulsively, and this was often expressed through his bike racing where his mother said he was fearless. He apparently loved the adrenaline rush and was admitted to hospital on many occasions with broken bones,

21. His mother says that by age 16 years Jayden came to the attention of Police. He managed to get off ‘ice’, replacing it with marijuana.

22. Ms Penno recounted that Jayden expressed suicidal ideation from the age of 16 while he was still at school. He also became involved with a bad crowd and started hanging out at a skate park in a rough area.

23. Although she tried, she could not persuade Jayden to connect with mental health services and therefore he has never been formally diagnosed or treated.

24. Ms Penno and her son were experiencing a difficult patch in their relationship prior to him departing NSW. He had stolen her car and wouldn’t return it and she found a bag of pills in her house and made him get rid of them. She was also very aware and quite concerned about Jayden’s pattern of obtaining employment and then blowing up at work, getting the sack, and then reverting to drug taking, usually on tic while waiting for his unemployment benefits to come through.

25. I was left with the impression of a mother who was as supportive to the extent that she could be, as she witnessed the chaos of Jayden’s life, whilst remaining unwavering in her love and support for him. In her statement to the court at the conclusion of Inquest Ms Penno declared that her life ‘ceased to exist’ when Jayden disappeared. None present at inquest would doubt that.

26. I can reasonably infer from the evidence that as at the commencement of the road trip to Cairns, Jayden was mentally quite vulnerable and suffering a period of mental instability. I accept that, against the backdrop of his drug use, Jayden was emotionally unstable and prone to outbursts

The road trip from Newcastle to Charters Towers

27. Jayden and a group of mates, comprising of 15 or 16 old school friends, made plans to meet up in Cairns for New Year’s Eve 2017 and to stay on and party for a week or so together. Four of that group gave evidence at inquest and all disclosed it was no secret that the trip would involve consuming alcohol, party drugs, and illicit substances, and generally to have a ‘good time’.

28. The young men aged in their 20’s met at a local pub in Newcastle and utilised their Facebook chat group to make their plans. Hotels were booked in advance, and all in the group, save for Jayden and Lucas Tattersall flew from Newcastle to Cairns. 

29. It was common knowledge amongst some of the group that Jayden driving to Cairns and bringing drugs with him. Ultimately Jayden connected with Lucas Tattersall, who offered the use of his car, and they decided to drive north together.

30. On the day he departed NSW Ms Penno arrived home (after some days away) to find that Jayden had tidied up her house and washed her car. She later spoke to him on Saturday 30th December. Her last text to him was at 7.52pm that same day which was unanswered, and from then her calls would go to through to Jayden’s message bank and all were unanswered.

31. At the time of his departure Jayden believed he was ‘wanted’ by New South Wales Police. There is in fact no record that Jayden was wanted on warrant and I am unable to reconcile his concern other than perhaps he believed there was some possibility he would be taken to a mental health facility by Police (as opposed to an outstanding criminal warrant).

32. Notwithstanding, Jayden also conveyed to members of his friendship group the belief that he was wanted on a warrant. That information impacted their later decision making and they delayed reporting (for 3 days) that Jayden was missing.

33. About 1.00pm on 29 December 2017, Jayden and Lucas Tattersall departed Newcastle for Cairns in Lucas’ red Nissan Pulsar sedan bearing NSW registration plates CN 32 ZB. They intended to be in Cairns by 31 December 2017 in time to celebrate the incoming New Year with the group as prearranged.

34. A friend (witness 7) noted that Jayden had by the morning of the 29th December, not slept for the previous two nights and he looked ‘fried’. (‘fried’ or ‘cooked’ were terms used by Jayden’s friend’s at inquest to describe the use / effects of illicit substances). Jayden assured his friend that he would be ‘ok to drive’, otherwise the friend did not hold any concerns for Jayden’s safety or welfare and purchased new shoes as a gift for his trip north. The friend often took drugs with Jayden and indicated it was usual for Jayden to consume 3 to 4 points of ice at a time. (This has some significance as it corroborates the evidence later given by Lucas that during the trip with Jayden, he estimated Jayden consumed 3-4 points of ice at a time).

35. Lucas Tattersall was not known to Jayden’s mother, or the old school friends meeting up with them in Cairns. Lucas gave evidence that he met Jayden approximately 18 months or so prior to this trip through a cousin. Lucas said he and Jayden ‘hung out during the week and did drugs and partied on weekends’.

36. Lucas Tattersall gave evidence at Inquest. On the whole I accept his evidence. On the occasions I do not accept his evidence, I indicate so in these findings. Where I accept his evidence I also do so taking into account that anomalies in relation to dates and times are likely to be as a result of his (Lucas’s) drug affected state (reported by associates to be “fried, absolutely cooked” when he arrived in Cairns), sleep deprivation and the stress he experienced at the time of the relevant events. His evidence across sworn statements, multiple records of interviews and his oral evidence remained consistent in relation to the significant and relevant issues. I ultimately find there is no evidence at all that Lucas Tattersall harmed Jayden, nor was that a theory seriously pursued with any particularity at inquest.

37. I accept that ultimate submission of Mr Crawfoot Counsel Assisting the Inquest, that the issue of any moral failing on the part of Lucas Tattersall by not remaining in the location where Jayden was last seen or report him missing to police earlier, is a different matter entirely to whether or not he caused Jayden’s demise.

Transport of drugs to Cairns

38. It is common ground that Jayden and Lucas carried with them a quantity of illicit drugs destined for Cairns.

39. On the evidence before the court Jayden had with him: • 1 gram of ICE and a ‘half ball’ (1/16 of an ounce or 1.75 grams) of MDMA (cut for him on the morning of Jayden’s departure by Witness 7) and a further • ˝ oz (14 grams) ICE and 1 ounce of MDMA (28 grams) (Lucas was with him during this purchase was gave evidence the ICE and the MDMA were purchased on tick).

40. Jayden’s personal supply then comprised in total of 15 grams of ‘ice’ and 29.75 grams of MDMA.

41. He also arranged to carry a ‘one point’ of Amphetamine (also referred to as ‘gas’) and one to two points of MDMA (in black rock powder form) to Cairns for one of the friends he was to meet there.

42. Lucas carried with him approximately 100 ecstasy pills (also referred to as ‘brown Homer’s or Homer Simpson’s; or ‘pingers’) worth about $700-$800 which he intended to sell to the group in Cairns.

43. On the evidence of Tattersall, it was estimated that Jayden consumed approximately 4 points of ICE every 4 hours during the 38-39 hour road trip to Charters Towers. Based on that evidence I estimate that over the course of 9 separate occasions smoking 4 points of ice on each occasion, Jayden consumed 3.6gms of ‘ice’. (4 x 9 = 36 x 0.1 = 3.6g).

44. On that basis, I estimate a balance of 11.4g of ‘ice’ remained unaccounted for at the time of Jayden’s disappearance. (15.0g less 3.6g consumed), in addition to the quantity he was carrying for his friend.

45. Accepted literature indicates that the use of the drug ‘ice’ or methamphetamine can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and hallucinations, agitation, and aggression. The use of this illicit drug also has corresponding (adverse) physiological effects.

46. The road trip

Newcastle to Charters Towers is approximately 2000 kilometres via the ‘inland route’. Without stopping the trip would take 20 hours or so. Jayden and Lucas did not arrive in Charters Towers until approximately 3.00am on 31 December, almost 38 hours later. They did not at any time stop to sleep overnight, check into a hotel or rest. The delay was ultimately accounted for by regular stops (every 4 or so hours to consume drugs; purchase of drinks and food; re-fuel (one occasion having to wait for a service station to open); and to repair a broken hose, resolved by Jayden and Lucas stealing one from another vehicle to replace theirs), and travelling at well below the speed limit for significant stretches of times when travelling through kangaroo country (Lucas later told the court sometimes they would slow to 4-50kilometres per hour for several hours at a time because they were concerned hitting a kangaroo while driving).

47. Lucas in evidence says that Jayden consumed ‘ice’ steadily for the whole of the trip and did not sleep at all (Jayden had by then slept since approximately 27 December – two nights before his departure). Jayden smoked ice through an ice pipe and approximately 3-4 points every four hours or so. Lucas says he himself consumed at least ‘2 pingers, maybe 3’, and 2 points of MDMA given to him by Jayden.

48. Despite Jayden’s regular consumption of ‘ice’ Lucas allowed Jayden to almost drive the vehicle exclusively because he was much more ‘alert’ then Lucas who nodded off from time to time and didn’t feel safe to drive.

Arrival at Puma Service Station Charters Towers

49. At approximately 3.00am on 31 December 2017 CCTV captures footage of Jayden and Lucas stopping at a Puma service station just outside Charters Towers. Both disembark from the car Jayden is driving on arrival and departure.

50. Jayden attempts to wash the side of the car (apparently trying to wash off road kill); they both go into, and re-emerge from the service station with drinks; Jayden is seen with his mobile phone flashlight looking outside and inside the vehicle; Lucas re-enters the car and exits again and appears to be frustrated which he later says is because he had to go back in for cigarettes at Jayden’s insistence). They then depart. That is the last independent vision or evidence available depicting Jayden. From that point on the only available version is provided by Lucas.

Leaving the Puma Service Station

51. Sometime after 3.00am upon leaving the Puma Service Station at Charters Towers, and within a half hour or so, Lucas describes Jayden becoming distressed at the possibility that he has dropped or lost his ‘ice’ stash (which was previously stored in the centre console of the vehicle). Jayden’s distress escalated and the evidence is he remained in a heightened, if not frenzied state for several hours thereafter. Jayden drove around the township of Charters Towers and would then stop and get out of the vehicle and try and find the drugs on the roadway or footpaths, and he continued on and on in this way for approximately 5 or 6 hours.

52. By this time (from the description provided by Lucas) Jayden was whipped into a frenzy of sorts and his driving became more erratic, and faster, and the distances covered greater and greater. (Lucas described his vehicle’s suspension as ‘stuffed’ at the end because of the fashion it was driven by Jayden at high speeds over potholes).

53. Jayden was by then ‘off his head’ with stress at the possibility that his ‘ice’ stash was missing. He was angry and irrational. I take into account that Jayden had not slept for almost 4 days and had steadily consumed ‘ice’ and other drugs during the 38-39 hour trip to Charters Towers. Lucas says it is likely Jayden last consumed drugs prior to the Puma around midnight. At the time of these events before and after sunrise on 31 December, Jayden was likely to be suffering the effects of coming ‘down’ from ice.

54. The accepted literature on those effects indicates that withdrawal from ice can include feeling confused, anxious, or agitated, angry or upset and associated with cravings. Associated adverse physiological effects of an overdose may include stroke, heart attack, unconsciousness, death.

55. I infer that Jayden was suffering the extreme effects of coming off his bender which by then had lasted almost 48 (or more), and many days of no sleep. He was in a very bad way. The only evidence as to hydration is the stop at the Puma at 3.00am for a sports drink. There is no evidence that Jayden took in any fluids from that point.

Drugs unable to be located

56. Eventually they came to stop in a rural location on the outskirts of Charters Towers. The late December terrain can only be described as dry and harsh, and the nearby properties comprised areas ranging from 50 acres blocks to several hundred acres. Jayden remained convinced, if not paranoid, that his ‘ice’ stash was lost, although he did on one occasion blame Lucas, which was apparently quickly deflected.

57. I consider that Jayden’s paranoia about the loss of the ‘ice’ was not misplaced. If Jayden had consumed as much as 4 points every 4 hours in a 38 hour period, he had consumed approximately 3.6 grams. My previous calculation that he started with 15 grams of ice would then leave a balance of 11.4 grams.

58. The remaining ‘ice’ has not ever been located or accounted for. Lucas in evidence said it was possible that Jayden had smoked his stash. Lucas denies knowing of the whereabouts of the remainder of the ice.

59. I do not accept Lucas’s evidence on this point (I also accept that the exact quantities were not clarified with Lucas in evidence and his evidence may have been different if the amount of 15grams was put to him).

60. It is unlikely if not improbable that Jayden smoked the whole quantity of ice carried by him (or even double that estimated by Lucas).

61. Lucas in his evidence referred to Jayden becoming extremely stressed at the prospect of arriving in Cairns without the stash “you don’t know what those people are capable of”. The drugs were purchased on ‘tick’ and by then Jayden owed people money. His mother confirmed in evidence she has always been concerned his disappearance might be attributed to some type of retaliation or retribution for non-payment of drugs. I found no evidence of such retaliation or retribution. 

62. I find that ultimately Jayden did not make his way to Cairns to ‘face the music’ by those to whom he owed money, and there was no evidence such person/s were waiting for him in Cairns.

63. There was also no evidence that interested persons either followed him to Charters Towers or were waiting for him there. However, I absolutely accept that his anxiety and stress about the loss of the drugs was real. It has not ever been resolved if the drugs were in fact lost, or simply misplaced in the car or on his person when he walked away. Lucas denies taking the ice or of its whereabouts. There was no evidence before the Inquest that the ‘ice’ ever came to light again.

64. By now, the evidence placed both Jayden and Lucas in the vicinity of Stockroute Road and Acacia Vale Road Breddan (on the outskirts of Charters Towers and approximately 10 to 11 kilometres from the town centre) sometime at around 9.00am or within the hour prior. It was at that time Lucas describes they were both off their heads with anger, frustration, and fatigue. The issues of the missing drugs had not resolved within the intervening 5 to 6 hours after leaving the Puma. Lucas described Jayden as unstable. At inquest Jayden’s friend Jed Wakefield deposed that under the influence of drugs, Jayden could be erratic and confrontational. Later when Tattersall arrived in cairns, Jed told him that Jayden’s behaviour was not out of character “I’ve been through that before with Penno”. Jayden walks off

65. Jayden eventually parked the vehicle on the dirt road, grabbed his MDMA and wallet and smashed his phone on the ground, leaving it there and walking off. He had no water with him. Lucas at first followed and tried to convince Jayden to calm down and finish the drive to Cairns. Jayden told him to ‘leave me the fuck alone’ and that he needed time to sit down and think about what to do. At that point Lucas returned to the car.

66. Lucas last saw Jayden no more than 50 metres from his vehicle, walking towards a fenced paddock. Lucas listened to the car radio for about 15 minutes or so waiting for Jayden to return, before driving away to find water. In evidence Lucas said he did not assume anything bad was going to happen

67. That was the last known sighting of Jayden. Jayden has not been seen or heard from since.

68. By then conditions had become extremely hot. The Bureau of Meteorology recorded temperatures approaching and reaching 40 degrees Celsius for the days in question including on the 31st. Lucas had by then run out of water and drove onto a nearby property owned by a Mr Lionel Murphy.

Stop for water at Murphy property

69. Mr Lionel Murphy a 62 year old employed man who owned property at 684 Stockroute Rd Charters Towers provided a statement to police and gave evidence at Inquest. He recalled the event clearly and was an excellent witness. Mr Murphy had a tap and a rain gauge positioned inside the front double gates to his property. On 31 December 2017 sometime between 9.30am and 10.00am he and his wife were attending to yard work at the house and he looked up to see a red car at his front gates bearing yellow NSW plates. He saw the vehicle drive in and veer towards the tap. He let his dog out of the yard and started to walk towards the motor vehicle. Mr Murphy arrived at the tap and his evidence can be summarised best as: “I saw a boy with a water bottle in his hand. He was driving a red Nissan Pulsar, a young bloke, about 20, short, 10 stone, burnt fairly red wearing shorts and thongs and had short brownish hair. He had a 600 ml bottle which looked empty. The tap only produced dirty water so I said don’t drink that I’ll go and get you some rain water. I then said to him you are a fair bit off the beaten track, where you going? He (Lucas) replied either that he was looking for his sister’s friend or his sister (don’t recall which). I returned with the water and he hadn’t moved from the car. I again said he was a fair bit off the main road and gave him directions back to the Flinders Highway (towards the Burton’s house) or right to get back into town. He appeared nervous, kept looking around and not at me”.

70. Mr Murphy did not see Lucas again. He recognised the vehicle and came forward when Queensland Police later ran the story of Jayden’s disappearance in the Northern Miner newspaper (which wasn’t printed for 10 days due to the holiday period).

71. Mr Murphy described the weather conditions on the day as ‘hot and sunny as hell’, and the area did not receive any rain until mid-January. The Burdekin River was the closest major water source and it was some 3-4 kilometres away from the Murphy property.

72. Mr Murphy said there were houses within 400 metres of his in any direction. He confirmed that a property with a ‘cow skull’ attached to a fence was located about 500 metres down the road from him (this became important when police were trying to retrace Lucas’s (and Jayden’s) movements based on a mud map Lucas had provided them recording this waypoint.

Lucas continues to search in vicinity of Charters Towers

73. Lucas then says he continued to search for Jayden in the area and could not locate him. He was by then screaming his name out and worried. He says by then he was also low on fuel due to the 5-6 hour run a round earlier and went back in to Charters Towers to refuel. He says he continued to look for Jayden and by then had relayed the circumstances to Jayden’s cousin Tim Westcott who was waiting for Jayden in Cairns and expected him to arrive by that evening.

74. Tim was concerned that any report to police might be premature and would attract unwanted attention, operating under the mistaken belief that Jayden was wanted on a warrant in NSW (and also in the knowledge that Jayden travelled with illicit drugs).

75. Tim sent Jayden messages earlier in the road trip and nothing in their exchanges alarmed him, however he was concerned the trip was taking longer than expected. (I formed a view this was out of genuine concern, and not because he was eager for the drugs carried by Jayden). By then Tim realised that Jayden was fatigued, under the influence of drugs and had experienced a number of unexpected delays (including to fix the broken hose or pipe). Tim also did not know Lucas.

76. After several hours driving around and not locating Jayden, Lucas made the decision to drive on to Cairns. Lucas says he did so because he was running low on money, did not know if he would have enough to buy fuel and had nowhere to stay. He had never been to Charters Towers, he did not know anyone, and he hoped that Jayden would reappear. I accept (and refer to the text messages and phone log records in evidence) that Lucas was discouraged by Jayden’s friends not to report to police at that time for fear of dobbing him in knowing he had drugs onboard. By then Lucas was also fatigued having not slept for over 48 hours and he was affected by drugs (he says he consumed 2 or 3 ecstasy pills and 2 points of MDMA during the 38 hour drive). I am inclined to a view that the estimate of consumption is likely to be an underestimate by Lucas.

77. In any event taking his circumstances into account I do not believe Lucas himself was of right mind at the time Jayden disappeared, and for the hours before and after. I have no doubt his capacity to make good decisions was affected and his capacity to exercise any independent judgement was impacted by the advices received from Jayden’s friends in Cairns to keep driving. Relevant witnesses at Inquest conceded that Jayden had a history of blowing up and walking away and then returning to them with ‘a story’. They also conveyed that impression to Lucas in order to reassure him. Lucas says his instinct was to contact police however Tim told him there was a warrant out and not to go to the cops, instead give him a couple of days.

78. I accept the events as described by Lucas, about Jayden’s implosion and his walk off from the Breddan location (sometime between 8.00and 9.00am) on 31 December 2017. That conduct is entirely within Jayden’s character profile and in keeping with views of a number of those close to him.

79. Jayden’s cousin Tim, the person considered to have the closets relationship with him in evidence said that when taking ‘ice’ Jayden would initially be happy but then if coming down or triggered her would ‘go off and then calm down’. during verbal arguments he was pretty ‘stern on his opinion’ he would ‘tell you to fuck off; and walk away then later clam down.’

80. Neither Lucas, Jayden nor Jayden’s friends had any local knowledge of Charters Towers. At inquest it became obvious that the friends already on the ground in Cairns assumed he had available to him, some form of public transport (a train was suggested), that he could access to travel to Cairns. There is no passenger train service to Cairns from that location. The misunderstanding that Jayden walked off in an urban location with access to the same amenities as Newcastle led his friends into error. The picture in their mind, while in Cairns absorbing the information relayed to them by Lucas in Charters Towers, and the options they thought open to Jayden to travel to Cairns “he always turns up” (or would ‘pop up’ as one witness hoped) was very different to the reality.

81. Charters Towers is located 1300 kilometres north west of Brisbane and 134 kilometres west of the nearest major regional centre of Townsville. It is a centre for beef and mining, and hosts a number of boarding schools for remote and regional families. ‘The Towers’ as it is also known has a population of approximately 8000 people. The climate is described as ‘hot semi-arid’. The highest recorded temperature in January is recorded to be 44.9 degrees Celsius, and the average rainfall for the month of December is 78.7 millimetres. For those who do not live in Charters Towers the climate and conditions are likely to be considered inhospitable at that time of year.

Lucas arrives in Cairns

82. Lucas again spoke with Tim after leaving Charters Towers and reported that he had not found Jayden. Tim urged Lucas to turn around and head back to Charters Towers to look again, which he did. Number plate recognition records provided by Queensland Police confirm that Lucas was 86 kilometres or so out of Charters Towers (at the township of Calcium) when he turned around and returned to Charters Towers.

83. When again he could not locate Jayden, Lucas again spoke with members of the Cairns group he was told to drive on to Cairns where they had a bed for him. The drive to Cairns from Charters Towers via Townsville is almost 500 kilometres.

84. By the time Lucas arrived in Cairns at 9.00pm the group were already out on the town partying. Most attended Gilligan’s, a local nightclub and partied, consuming drugs and alcohol until the venue closed at 5.00a.m. They then returned to various hotels and continued to consume drugs and alcohol for most of New Year’s Day, before sleeping on the night of the 31st December, and some not then waking until lunchtime on the 2nd of December. At inquest, witnesses described themselves as ‘fried’ or ‘cooked’ for the period from New Year’s Eve until waking on 2nd January.

85. Lucas says he in fact did not initially meet up with Jayden’s friends. They had already dispersed by the time he arrived and so he attended The Woolshed another local nightclub. He says he met up with a person not previously known to him and drank alcohol and consumed drugs. He then met up with Jayden’s friends after closing time and continued to party with them in a hotel room throughout the 31st December, sleeping that evening and waking at lunchtime on the 2nd January. It appears common ground that many of the group visited a local swimming hole that afternoon.

86. I accept that sometime during this period (and prior to formally reporting to Police) the group made calls to the Charters Towers Hospital to establish if Jayden had been admitted there.

The Queensland Police Missing Person Investigation

87. It was not until the 3rd of January that members of the group became sufficiently concerned to contact the police. By the afternoon of 3rd January Queensland Police commenced an investigation into Jayden’s disappearance code-named Operation Quebec Dunay.

88. The investigating officer Detective Sergeant Edwards gave evidence at Inquest and confirmed that a police investigation commenced on 3 January 2018 the day Jayden was reported missing by his parents (who had been alerted via one of Jayden’s friends in Newcastle of concerns amongst his friends communicated via Facebook).

89. Detective Sergeant Edwards confirmed that Jayden was last seen in Charters Towers and that the last to see him was Lucas Tattersall.

90. Lucas Tattersall was confirmed as being the only person in the vehicle on 31 December, when he was sighted in Calcium (presumably en route to Cairns) at 11.46 am. Number plate recognition cameras then pick Lucas up in the township of Charters Towers at 12.45pm suggesting he turned around at the request of Jayden’s cousin and returned to Charters Towers. When he could not locate Jayden he turned around and drove to Cairns through the township of Calcium (detected at 2.47pm on 31 December) and through Cardwell at 7.04pm that evening which fits with his approximate 9.00pm arrival into Cairns.

91. Lucas’s movements have been corroborated by police.

92. Unfortunately as at the commencement of Inquest Ms Penno was not aware that the phone records within the Brief of Evidence show UTC time which is Coordinated Universal Time and required adding 10 hours to each entry to accurately reflect the time of each phone or data entry. She therefore had been unable to previously reconcile various aspects of the investigation and many of her concerns about Lucas’s movements were alleviated when she became aware of the adjustment. Ms Penno was also unaware of the existence of the police investigation log (170 pages) until inquest and many of her concerns and criticisms about the police investigation were resolved when she considered that document. Ms Penno returned to the witnesses box on Day 2 and said she did not realise the extent of the police investigation until receiving that document.

93. Det Sergeant Edwards confirmed that Lucas voluntarily provided his car to police to search and examine. Police located an ice pipe in a bag that belonged to Jayden) and two iphones belonging to Jayden (a model 4 and 5). Both phones were damaged.

94. Lucas returned to Charters Towers to assist police with their enquiries. He drove around with police trying to identify landmarks of assistance and then prepared a hand drawn mud map of local landmarks as recalled by him being the vicinity that he and Jayden parted company. Those landmarks included a cow skull affixed to the gate of a property and another property with a distinctive red gate (later established to be in the vicinity of the Breddan area where Lucas obtain water from Mr Murphy). The map reconciled with the information provided by local people including Mr Murphy who came forward in response to the police media campaign.

95. That mud map describes with reasonable accuracy the location where Lucas says Jayden was last seen. The police used this point as the last known position and an official search commenced from there.

96. A number of persons were interviewed by police and a some became witnesses in the police investigation. A Mr Lloyd Lavery loomed as someone who may have information that could assist however after considering his evidence including oral examination at inquest, I am unable to conclude any evidentiary value in the information provided by him. He deposed to seeing an unrelated vehicle the morning after Jayden disappeared. He did not host a party at his property attended by Jayden and / or Lucas (as had been the subject of social media chatter). Approximately three quarters of the Lavery property was searched by police who discounted any concerns about his involvement.

97. At this juncture I note a recurring concern raised by investigating police was the use or misuse of social media perpetrating spurious information including false leads and inaccuracies that took unnecessary time to investigate. A number of unrelated persons became involved in unhelpful interactions and exchanges including clairvoyants, a private detective, false ‘go fund me page’ and people involved in Facebook groups not connected with the police investigation. I had the sense that this misinformation has at times also unfortunately influenced Jayden’s family who, as one would expect when hope is all they have, the inaccuracies loomed larger and for longer than they should have or ever need be. The myths that developed around Jayden’s death are unhelpful and have caused a great deal of distress to his family.

The police search

98. I accept the submissions of Mr Hollands of Counsel in regard to the police investigation and search. It was thoroughly and meticulously undertaken by Det Sergeant Peter Edwards and Det Senior Constable Burns who have a combined experience of some 50 years in policing.

99. The investigation was overviewed by both a Detective Inspector and a Detective Superintendent.

100. I accept that all reasonable methods and investigative techniques were deployed in the search by air and on land including the use of helicopters and drones and significant local knowledge over a land mass covering some 11 kilometres by 15 kilometres, including the inspection of sealed and unsealed mine shafts within the relevant area. Resources included Queensland Police, State Emergency Services personnel and local people. The search line comprised 10 across SES personnel in their foot search of relevant areas. (New South wales Police also assisted with the investigation on the ground in Newcastle when requested by Queensland Police).

101. Queensland’s most experienced search and rescue operative Sergeant Whitehead, was placed in charge for the search for Jayden. He gave evidence that the chances of survivability in that terrain in those climatic conditions whilst under the influence of drugs and without water was poor (three days in optimal conditions). His experienced suggested that given the late report of the missing person, Jayden may have been deceased before the search proper commenced on the morning of 4 January. The late report seriously disadvantaged the police and the evidence is that Jayden’s chance of survival beyond three days was unlikely. Sergeant Whitehead provided an example of a young woman who survived only 4 hours in similar conditions.

102. Sergeant Whitehead’s experience was not challenged. In evidence he deposed that he was the State Search and Rescue Coordinator for almost 16 years. He conducted his first search in July 1989, was involved in 1400 search and rescue operations in his previous role and conservatively 12,000 since in his current role.

103. When asked how many searches he had been involved in where a person has perished by way of misadventure, Sgt Whitehead responded: “Off the top of my head, without any preparation, I’m going to say … … probably 300 give or take”

104. When asked how many he had been involved in SAR’s personally, or overseen, that have not resulted in a body being found he responded: “I can tell you, 316, because I counted the number of terminations I’ve done. So I do a termination everytime I don’t find a body … we save about 2000 to 2200 people a year, but of that average there’s only about 50 to 60 that are deceased and there’s about 22 to 30 that we don’t actually find”.

105. Sergeant Whitehead gave evidence that water is the biggest factor to predict survivability. There was little surface water at all in the location at the time of Jayden’s disappearance. There is no evidence Jayden carried water with him when leaving the car. Sergeant Whitehead deposed that drugs make people paranoid and persons under the influence often try to hide and avoid roadways and creek lines, and exhibit vastly different behaviours, contrary to what one might logically expect.

106. It is of relevance to note that experienced search and rescue operatives paused searching during the hours of 10.00am and 2.00pm each day due to the extreme temperatures at the time.

107. Sergeant Whitehead’s ultimate opinion is that Jayden was most likely already deceased prior to the commencement of the search.

108. Police searched local properties and all leads regarding sightings and possible areas of interest.

109. In addition to the search the investigating officers collated significant witness statements, conducted records of interviews, followed leads on all relevant sightings of vehicles of interest, ran a ‘Crime Stoppers’ campaign, a media release, and gathered in phone tower records from Charters Towers to Cairns and number plate camera recognition data. They obtained two written statements and conducted 7 electronic records of interview with the last to see, Lucas Tattersall.

110. Some 6000 text messages from the phone of Lucas Tattersall were downloaded and analysed by investigators.

111. A scientific search of Tattersall’s car did not reveal any overt signs of blood, disturbance, or cleaning. There was no evidence of foul play in relation to the vehicle.

112. I accept that all lines of investigation to date have been exhausted. There are no signs of Jayden, no sightings and he has not been in touch with any person since last seen on the morning of 31 December 2017. He has not engaged with any system since evidence that he has not returned to the community.

113. The investigation included a complete examination of the Nissan Pulsar that did not detect any evidence of violence or attempts to conceal or remove evidence. Lucas assisted QPS with their investigations including being interviewed and participating in a drive by of areas where Jayden was last seen.

114. Aerial and ground searches of that area were conducted by QPS over a period of 12 days with the search being officially terminated sometime after. The Queensland Police ultimately concluded that Jayden walked into the bush and perished.

115. Police do not consider Jayden’s death to be suspicious. I accept and adopt that conclusion.

Summary and Conclusions

116. On 31 December 2017 Jayden Penno-Tompsett and another, a Lucas Tattersall whilst travelling to Cairns by road via the inland route, to join friends as pre-arranged for New Year’s Eve celebrations. They carried with them a quantity of the illicit drugs methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA, ‘ice; and ecstasy. Jayden consumed a quantity of ice during the trip, approximately 3.6grams, he had not slept for approximately 4 days. He became erratic and unpredictable after a stopover for fuel at approximately 3.00am on 31 December 2017 when soon thereafter he could not locate his stash of the drug ‘ice’. He drove around Charters Towers and outskirts in a frenzy for approximately 5 or 6 hours before parking the vehicle owned by Tattersall (a red Nissan Pulsar NSW registration CN 32 ZB) on the side of a dirt road in the rural location of Breddan. He walked off, smashing his mobile phone, and taking with him a quantity of MDMA and his wallet. He was last seen by Tattersall walking towards a fenced paddock. Jayden did not return, and he could not be located despite a preliminary search for several hours undertaken by Tattersall, who then drove on to Cairns as prearranged to meet up with friends for New Year’s Eve 2017. Tattersall and the group consumed illicit drugs and alcohol during the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2018 before falling asleep and waking around lunchtime on 2 February 2018 and attending a local waterhole to swim. The group did not report Jayden’s disappearance until 3 January at which time Queensland Police commenced an immediate investigation and search. Jayden has not been located. He disappeared without a trace. He has not engaged with any system or person since, nor contacted his family. Jayden had little or no prospect of surviving the combination of 40 degree temperatures, the isolated and unfamiliar location, his drug affected state, dehydration and the associated physiological changes. Police consider that more likely than not Jayden was deceased before the official search commenced and that the delay in reporting his disappearance significantly prejudiced their investigation and search. Jayden’s death is not considered to be suspicious.

 A circumstantial case

117. There is no evidence that Jayden is deceased. However, based on all the evidence I find that Jayden is not alive. The compelling overwhelming and only reasonable inference I can draw, albeit from completely circumstantial evidence is that Jayden is deceased.

118. A number of possibilities arose as to how Jayden met his demise and I have considered the following:

• That Jayden died of exposure to the elements;

• That he walked off and later took his life by means unknown;

• That he died of natural causes;

• That he died of a drug overdose;

• That he met with foul play – that his life was taken by a person or persons unknown

Formal findings and declaration of Jayden’s death

119. I formally find on the totality of the evidence before me that: • Jayden Joseph Penno-Thompsett is deceased. • I find that on the totality of the evidence before it is more probable than not (and at the highest end of the Briginshaw scale) that:

• Jayden Penno-Tompsett died as a result of exposure to the elements and;

• Jayden Penno-Tompsett died at Breddan via Charters Towers and;

• Jayden Penno-Tompsett on a date unknown between 31 December 2017 and 3 January 2018.

120. The Police investigation remains open. The Coroners Act provides for the reopening of an Inquest in the event that new evidence comes to light.

Reward Evaluation

121. I intend to refer this matter and these findings to the Queensland Police Rewards Evaluation Committee to assess if circumstances exist for the issue of a Reward Notice. Acknowledgements

122. The Queensland Police Service investigating officers Detective Sergeant Peter Edwards and Senior Constable Greg Burns conducted a thorough and professional investigation. The Brief of evidence prepared by them forms the basis of the evidence before the court. I thank them for their assistance to the Coroners Court of Queensland and this Inquest.

123. I thank all at the Bar table, Mr Crawfoot Counsel Assisting, Mr Hollands on behalf of members of the QPS, and Mr Raeburn instructed by the Townville Community Legal Centre via the auspices of the Coronial Legal Assistance Fund. The funding for coronial legal services provided by the TCLS and Caxton Legal Service are an invaluable and necessary resource for families, the community, and the Coroners Court.

124. I thank all at the Bar table for their professionalism and courtesy, and for the decency and respect displayed, at all times, to Jayden’s family.


125. There are no words to convey the deepest and sincerest condolences on behalf of the Court, that would in any way ameliorate the pain and suffering experienced by Jayden’s mother, father, grandparents and extended family, all present in Court, nonetheless I do so.

126. I herewith provide to Jayden’s parents a copy of the NSW Department of Justice report (Missing Persons Unit December 2014) titled ‘It’s the Hope That Hurts’ – Best practice in counselling models relevant to families and friends of missing persons. The report is illuminating and very helpful when trying to understand the very particular type of hurt and suffering experienced by families of missing persons and speaks of the fear, guilt and disenfranchisement experienced by them.

Findings required by s. 45

Identity of the deceased – Jayden Joseph Penno-Tompsett

How he died – On 31 December 2017 Jayden Penno-Tompsett and another, a Lucas Tattersall whilst travelling to Cairns by road via the inland route, to join friends as prearranged for New Year’s Eve celebrations. They carried with them a quantity of the illicit drugs methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA, ‘ice; and ecstasy. Jayden consumed a quantity of ice during the trip approximately 3.6grams, he had not slept for approximately 4 days. He became erratic and unpredictable after a stopover for fuel at approximately 3.00am on 31 December 2017 when soon thereafter he could not locate his stash of the drug ‘ice’. He drove around Charters Towers and outskirts in a frenzy for approximately 5 or 6 hours before parking the vehicle owned by Tattersall (a red Nissan Pulsar NSW registration CN 32 ZB) on the side of a dirt road in the rural location of Breddan. He walked off, smashing his mobile phone and taking with him a quantity of MDMA and his wallet. He was last seen by Tattersall walking towards a fenced paddock. Jayden did not return, and he could not be located despite a preliminary search for several hours undertaken by Tattersall, who then drove on to Cairns as prearranged to meet up with friends for New Year’s Eve 2017. Tattersall and the group consumed illicit drugs and alcohol during the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2018 before falling asleep and waking around lunchtime on 2 February 2018 and attending a local waterhole to swim. The group did not report Jayden’s disappearance until 3 January at which time Queensland Police commenced an immediate investigation and search. Jayden has not been located. He disappeared without a trace. He has not engaged with any system or person since, nor contacted his family. Jayden had little or no prospect of surviving the combination of 40 degree temperatures, the isolated and unfamiliar location, his drug affected state, dehydration and the associated physiological changes. Police consider that more likely than not Jayden was deceased before the official search commenced and that the delay in reporting his disappearance significantly prejudiced their investigation and search. Jayden’s death is not considered to be suspicious.

Place of death – Breddan via Charters Towers, Queensland.

Date of death– On a date unknown between 31 December 2017 and 3 January 2018.

Cause of death – Exposure to the elements

I now close the inquest.

Nerida Wilson Northern Coroner CAIRNS




We can’t change what happened’: What led to disappearance of Jayden Penno-Tompsett

IT started with an argument on a boys trip, and ended with a frantic search. How could Jayden just disappear?

Andrew Koubaridis   news.com.au   January 6 2018

THE father of a young man who disappeared off a Queensland highway after a mysterious fight isn’t worried about what sparked the vanishing — he just wants him home.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett, 22, has not made contact with anyone since he was last seen near a Charters Towers roadhouse on the Flinders Highway in the early hours of December 31.

He and a friend got into an argument on the side of the road as they headed north on a boys trip away. Mr Penno-Tompsett and the friend where the only ones in the vehicle, with the others in their group travelling in a second car.

Queensland Police — who say they were “exploring all avenues” — have launched a major air and land search for Jayden, but have found no sign of the former demolition worker.

He hasn’t touched his bank accounts, only has the clothes he was wearing and didn’t have his phone when he disappeared.

It isn’t known what Mr Penno-Tompsett and his friend were arguing about or why the group left him behind.

They were travelling from Newcastle to Cairns to celebrate New Year’s Eve and had been planning the trip for months.

Brendan Tompsett, Jayden’s father, told news.com.au he just wanted to know his son was okay.

“What we really want is we need to know that he’s okay, as you can imagine the worst thing is the not knowing. We don’t care what the issues were, that’s really secondary at this point ... Just let us know he’s safe.”

He described his son as “a bit wild” who sometimes dealt with things alone and in his own time. But this behaviour was out of the ordinary.

“To not be in touch with some of his mates and to not let anyone know ... From what police have told me he hasn’t used his bank account so that is fairly concerning. It’s got scary.”

Mr Tompsett discovered his son was missing on Wednesday morning after Jayden’s close friend Jayson Hungerford called him. “He got in touch with me. It happened on the 31st and said his mates had tried to file a police report but they couldn’t because they weren’t family. they finally contacted Jayson, who got in touch with me.”

There were a number of unanswered questions about what happened on New Year’s Eve, but for now he just wanted to know Jayden was safe.

“Details are a bit sketchy. He had a blue with his mate and he got out [of the car] and he walked off.”

The group then left, leaving Mr Penno-Tompsett behind hundreds of kilometres from their final destination.

Mr Tompsett was reluctant to comment when asked about their action. “It’s something we’ll have to deal with ... [why it happened] we are trying to find out as well, but we can’t yet ... It’s not going to solve anything at the moment. It is what it is ... We can’t change what happened.”

He hadn’t spoken to the young men who Jayden argued with. “Other people have. It’s pointless me ringing him up and being another person in his face. I’ll deal with that one later.”

He has a message for his son: “Whatever is going on we just need to know, just a phone call to let us know you are all right. Being a missing person is the worst thing ever for a parent ever. I’d rather know he is in hospital I’d rather know anything at all except for nothing. It’s the not knowing is the worst thing. Just let us know you’re okay.”

Jayson Hungerford, the friend who called Mr Tompsett with the news his son was missing, was clinging to the hope he was hitchhiking and unaware of the rising panic in his loved ones.

“He wouldn’t hesitate to hitchhike and all that so I’m hoping he’s just on a very long trip home.”

He too was grappling with why he had disappeared.

“I think it was just the argument with his mate and because it was his mates car I’m thinking he just didn’t want to get back in his car cause they were fighting...But it is out of character for him.”

Mr Penno-Tompsett was “usually always on top of it, no matter the situation”, he said.

Queensland Police conducted an air and land search in the Tower Hill area on Thursday, but have since scaled it back to patrols after failing to locate Mr Penno-Tompsett or any items of interest.

“Police are exploring all avenues however accept that it is a possibility that Mr Penno-Tompsett, from Newcastle, is still travelling as part of his original plans and may not be aware that he has been reported missing,” said Charters Towers officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Dean Cavanagh.

Towers Hill property owners have been urged to check their properties for Mr Penno-Tompsett, while motorists are encouraged to contact police if they believe they may have seen him on New Year’s Eve

Mr Penno-Tompsett is described as caucasian in appearance, 175cm tall and with mousy-brown hair.

He was last seen wearing a black singlet, navy blue board shorts, and black and red thongs.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Queensland Police’s Policelink line on 131 444.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett last seen near mystery property

THE hunt for a missing NSW man has taken a strange twist, with police now saying he was seen near a mystery property.

news.com.auJANUARY 10, 201811:50AM

A FRIEND who left a missing Newcastle man alone on an isolated Queensland road after a heated argument has told police they parted ways in a different location.

Jayden Peno-Tompsett, 22, has not been seen since the early hours of December 31. He and the friend were travelling to Cairns to celebrate New Year’s Eve with others, who were in a separate car.

The friend originally said the location where he last saw Mr Peno-Tompsett was a roadhouse on the Flinders Highway at Charters Towers — but he has now provided a mysterious new location.

The man told detectives it was a rural property on an unsealed road with a red steel fence. “On the property is the skull of a bull on a post near a set of yards with silver coloured fencing,” Charters Towers Senior Sergeant Graham Lohmann told news.com.au.

The unsealed road ran off a bitumen road and a house was visible several hundred metres from the road.

Police have not been able to locate the property and have appealed to locals to help find it.

Mr Lohmann said the friend first spoke to police when he was 600 kilometres from Charters Towers. “Upon return to Charters Towers, the witness was able to clarify the description of the location,” he added.

Mr Lohmann said the friend was co-operating with police and had spent several days trying to pinpoint the location — but he has not been able to say exactly where it was.

News.com.au understands the two men argued about something — possibly money — and Mr Penno-Tompsett, who was driving, pulled over and left the vehicle. His friend then drove off. He told police he returned later and Mr Penno-Tompsett was gone.



The last person to see Jayden Penno-Tompsett breaks his silence

THE man at the centre of a highway vanishing in Queensland has spoken out about what happened when his “mate” went missing.

Andrew Koubaridis  news.com.au  January 12 2018

AS the desperate search for Jayden Penno-Tompsett goes on, the last person to see him has denied he is “some heartless prick that just left him there to die”.

Mr Penno-Tompsett hasn’t been seen since he stormed off from his friend Lucas Tattersall after an argument they had while travelling from Newcastle to Cairns for a New Year’s party.

The 22-year-old hasn’t touched his bank accounts, was upset according to friends and without his mobile phone — and police and his family fear the worst.

In a series of social media posts, Mr Tattersall lashed out at those suggesting he should have done more to help Mr Penno-Tompsett.

“I’m sorry to tell you but if someone wants to just up and leave and f*** off then that’s what they are gonna do. [You] don’t understand how hard I tried to help Jayden when I with him and calm him down so we can sort this out.”

He said he was heartbroken about what had happened.

“He is my mate and I’m hurt too please stop making out I’m just some heartless prick that left him out there to die.”

It’s understood the argument was over money.

Police have been told Mr Penno-Tompsett, who was driving, pulled over and left the vehicle after the argument during the early hours of December 31. Mr Tattersall then drove off. He told police he returned later and Mr Penno-Tompsett was gone.

He was not reported missing until January 3.

Mr Tattersall said as well as speaking to police he had spent “days” looking for his mate.

He denied his story had changed, and said he was doing everything he could to help police discover the mystery property where he left him.

At first he was believed to have been last seen near a roadhouse on the Flinders Highway at Charters Towers. He later gave more information, but the only things he could remember about the location — somewhere in Charters Towers — was it was a rural property on an unsealed road with a red steel fence. There was a skull of a bull on a post near a set of yards with silver coloured fencing.

Asked why he drove off and continued on to Cairns as planned, he said he was “owed money” there that he needed to fix his car. He said the vehicle was “on the verge of breaking down”.

“I had to wait about 4/5 days until I could get it fixed. Otherwise if I didn’t do what I did I’d be stuck in Charters Towers with no money or nothing myself.”

Many of Mr Penno-Tompsett’s friends and family are angry about the chain of events and believe there are unanswered questions about what happened. In an interview last week with news.com.au, Brendan Tompsett said he didn’t care about what the argument was over — he just wanted his son back.

“It’s something we’ll have to deal with ... [why it happened] we are trying to find out as well, but we can’t yet ... It’s not going to solve anything at the moment. It is what it is ... We can’t change what happened.”

In a lengthy Facebook post Mr Tattersall said: “None of you understand my side or the shit that was going on. Like I said [to] the police I’ve been speaking to and the ones who need to know it all have got it. Yous [sic] can make up all the assumptions about me that you want at the end of the day I know the truth. I want him home too yous [sic] know.”

He did not say what the argument was over but claimed Mr Penno-Tompsett had told him there was a warrant out for his arrest. This sparked an angry exchange with his father, who denied any warrant existed.

“Well Jayden had told me and all his other mates that cops had been looking for him so what’s what we were led to believe. Can only go off what I know,” Mr Tattersall wrote late yesterday.

Police have confirmed there was no warrant for his arrest.

Mr Tattersall did not respond to news.com.au seeking further comment.

Charters Towers Senior Sergeant Graham Lohmann told news.com.au they were “more than satisfied” at the assistance Mr Tattersall had given police.

“He’s been more than helpful, even up to today.”

But there was no good news on the search front today. A tip was received about a property on Stockroute Rd where the mystery property was possibly located, but they were unable to confirm it was the place they were looking for.

“We can’t be certain that was the place the missing person was dropped off,” Mr Lohmann said.

Two helicopters scoured the area while officers doorknocked properties without “any new information” being discovered.

Mr Lohmann said the search would continue in any area police had credible information about.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Queensland Police’s Policelink line on 131 444.

Mother of missing man Jayden Penno-Tompsett joins search party at Charters Towers


Rachel Penno's gut instinct tells her there is something more to the disappearance of her only son.

"I just don't know what that is at this moment," she said.

"But my gut is telling me there is something else. Jayden just wouldn't go bush like that.

"I've got to let the police piece this puzzle together."

Ms Penno did everything to get from Newcastle to Charters Towers, in North Queensland, where Jayden Penno-Tompsett mysteriously vanished on New Year's Eve on boy's trip to Cairns.

She hadn't slept, battled car troubles after hitting a kangaroo, and just 20 kilometres out of Charters Towers, ran out of fuel on the lonely Flinders Highway in the dark of night.

When she finally got to Charters Towers, she met with detectives and went looking for herself, sifting through the dry country and navigating the maze of back roads that weaves through farmland, even getting lost herself. It isn't hard to do.

On Wednesday, she was there again with police as they ramped up the search to find Mr Penno-Tompsett, canvassing a massive area that spans 85 square kilometres of rugged terrain near the Burdekin River, north of Stockroute Drive, which is currently the 22-year-old's last known location.

Emergency services have vowed not to stop despite the "huge effort" they have on their hands.

Described by senior police as a "slow, arduous" process, the search area is full of dry creeks and large vegetation that has prevented the use of helicopters.

Recent rain, including a massive dump on Monday of 86.1 millimetres, the drought-stricken town's wettest day in five years, has hampered search efforts.

From one extreme to the next, there has also been searing heat.

But Townsville district police inspector Roger Whyte insisted the search effort was "evidence-based" and vowed to leave "no stone unturned".

Some authorities still believe Mr Penno-Tompsett could be found alive with various water sources in the area. Detectives have also not ruled out the possibility the 22-year-old  hitchhiked out of Charters Towers.

"We would not be searching here if we did not believe we could find Jayden," Inspector Whyte said on Wednesday.

For a mother in uncharted territory, hope is everything.

"I still have hope he's going to come back," Ms Penno said.

"I just want him to come back, I just want him to come back."

Police again appealed for anyone who had information about Mr Penno-Tompsett's disappearance to come forward.



Mother's desperate search for son missing since New Year's Eve

By Harry Clarke - Channel 9

The desperate mother of a man who vanished from a remote country road on New Year’s Eve is preparing to return home once again, after her second attempt to personally find him turned up nothing.

But Rachel Penno, whose 22-year-old son Jayden was last seen near the north Queensland outback town of Charters Towers last month, has not given up hope.

Jayden Penno-Thompsett disappeared during the early hours of December 31 while travelling with a friend, Lucas Tattersall, from their hometown of Newcastle to Cairns for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The pair stopped off for petrol and snacks at a service station on the Flinders Highway before getting into an argument about 5.30am.

Mr Tattersall, who police say has been fully cooperative with their investigation, told authorities the argument led to Jayden storming off into darkness. He hasn’t been seen since.

Extensive land and air searches by police and the SES in the days following found no trace of Jayden, whose mother says his disappearance is totally out of character.

Ms Penno has spent the week in Charters Towers, scouring bushland and talking to residents living along the highway where her son was last seen.

It’s the second time she has made the 2300km journey from Newcastle to look for Jayden, having joined search teams during their final sweeps of the area last month.

“I'd do anything to get him back. I'd do whatever it takes,” a distraught Ms Penno told A Current Affair.

Jayden’s aunt, Karen Dobell, has also been assisting.

“There are several things that don't add up,” she said.

“I know Jayden would not be out there in the bush for three weeks because he wouldn't have the skills to survive.”

Theories among locals at Charters Towers, south-west of Townsville, as to what happened to Jayden have reportedly ranged from foul play to an attempt by him to disappear and hide.

However, with no firm leads, his whereabouts and the reason he cannot be located remains a genuine mystery to his family, and to authorities.

Senior Sergeant Graham Lohman, who is the officer in charge of Charters Towers police, told A Current Affair that Jayden’s disappearance had baffled everyone involved in the search.

“It's a very unusual matter that we are investigating and it's made worse by the fact that Mr Tattersall can't remember the exact location where he dropped Jayden off,” he said.

“There is no evidence to suggest that anything untoward has happened to (Jayden).

“We remain open to all possible scenarios and we are treating him still as a missing person.”

Anyone with information which may assist is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.