Mum of missing Jayden: 'I struggle everyday with no knowing'
THE night before she learned her son was missing Rachel Penno had a dream so bad it unsettled her for hours.
She then heard the devastating news Jayden Penno-Tompsett hadn't been seen for three days.
"I woke up with a really sinking feeling. Then I found out he was missing."
The 22-year-old vanished while heading to Cairns for a boys trip to celebrate New Year's Eve - but he never made it to his destination.
Mr Penno-Tompsett and friend Lucas Tattersall were 1800km away from their Newcastle homes when stopped at a service station at Charters Towers - where grainy CCTV footage of Mr Penno-Tompsett was captured - early on December 31. The before the pair got into an argument. Mr Penno-Tompsett walked off while Mr Tattersall drove away.
He hasn't been seen or heard of since and hasn't touched his bank accounts.
There had been a delay in his mates who he was travelling with reporting him missing and then Ms Penno hearing the news. She still has questions regarding the timeline of events that she wants answered.
"I'm not even angry - I was at first. You don't just leave your mate in the middle of nowhere and take off with all his belongings. But now I'm devastated. I struggle every day not knowing."
There had been conflicting accounts from the start. "Everything was confusing, right down to where he lost him, to if he had his phone or not. Everything."
But her first priority was finding out where he is.
She has been at the search area at Braddon, near Charters Towers, but has had to leave to head back to Newcastle.
SES crews and police have spent the past five days scouring a remote property, and they have been working in extreme conditions.
"Monday, I'd say that was the hottest day since I've been out in the field," SES spokesman Bob Griffiths said.
Ms Penno told news.com.au she was running on empty. "The hardest thing was hearing [he was missing] the second hardest thing is leaving the site. Especially with no news. I can't cry anymore ... I just don't know what to do."
Seeing how unforgiving the area her son is thought to be lost in was came as a terrible shock.
"I had no idea, how hard it is, how hot it was ... I couldn't imagine being able to cope with that with no clothes, no water, no money, no nothing. I just don't get it. I don't get why there have been no reported sightings. I don't understand how nothing concrete has come through."
He would never stay away this long without speaking to a family member or a friend. Knowing this was the hardest part because it meant her mind wandered to each of the different scenarios that could have happened. And they aren't good.
"I have all those fears, I have all the worst fears. Then I think 'no stop thinking that'. And we go back to having no news. And hoping he is at backpackers somewhere."
She begged anyone who had any information maybe had picked him up to come forward quickly.
"Just anything, anyone who has helped him or offered him any assistance to contact us. We just need to know that he is okay, so we can help him."
Queensland Police Inspector Roger Whyte was still hopeful of finding Mr Penno-Tompsett.
"We wouldn't be still here if we didn't think there was a chance of survival."
Police have vowed to follow up every lead to find him. They have urged locals to check their properties for any sign of the former demolition worker.
"Every snippet of information from members of the community advise us about is followed up.
Mr Tattersall, has defended himself in a series of Facebook posts, upset at accusations he should have done more to help.
"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."
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."
The only details Mr Tattersall could remember about the location he last saw Mr Penno-Tompsett, somewhere close to 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.
Extensive searches of the area around Stockroute Rd, which a member of the public thought could be the mystery location, came to nothing.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Queensland Police's Policelink line on 131 444.