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Shock twist in mystery disappearance of 'larrikin', 22, who vanished on 'Wolf Creek Highway'

Pictured: Jayden Penno-Tompsett before he disappeared

A young 'larrikin' who vanished on Australia's 'Wolf Creek Highway' after a 30-hour ice bender likely died from 'exposure to the elements,' a coronial inquest has found.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett, 22, was on a road trip from his hometown of Newcastle to Queensland on New Year's Eve in 2017, when he ran into bushland after an argument and was never seen again. 

Investigators and his family held grave fears something 'sinister happened' on the notorious stretch of road, but Magistrate Nerida Wilson ruled out foul play at a three-day inquest.

She determined Mr Penno-Tompsett likely succumbed to the scorching tropical heat after walking away from the car he was travelling in and into remote bushland at Charters Towers near Cairns, the Courier Mail reported.

He had been travelling with his friend Lucas Tattersall on that 40-degree day, but the two had a drug-fuelled argument over 'missing ice' prompting Mr Penno-Tompsett to storm off.

The inquest heard the young man was not reported missing until January 3, 2018 - three days later - because Mr Tattersall believed there could have been a warrant out for his friend's arrest and he didn't want to get him into trouble.

The dark history of the 'Highway of Death' 

The stretch of outback road in inland Queensland where Jayden was last seen has been coined the 'real life Wolf Creek' after a spate of disappearances.

Locals say even they wouldn't travel on the road alone - especially at night - because of the dark history.  

Ms Hoinville-Bartram's remains were buried in a shallow grave at Sensible Creek, 80kms west of Charters Towers.

She was shot in the head twice a .22 calibre rifle. Ms Cunningham remains a missing person.   

He smashed his phone and left his father's home with nothing but the clothes he was wearing in the moments before he disappeared. 

Police believe they found articles of clothing belonging to him about two months later.  

Magistrate Wilson also said Mr Tattersall was unaware how remote the Charters Towers was.

His mother Rachel Penno recently told Daily Mail Australia she that she believed he may have been murdered.

In the weeks leading up to his disappearance, she said the normally 'outgoing larrikin' appeared 'frightened'.  

Ms Penno learned Jay was in financial debt and believes he felt pressured to go on the road trip after someone he knew threatened to have bikies 'rough up' both he and his mum. 

'There was a lot of suspicious stuff. He told me he was in a bit of trouble and that he was getting threats, but he didn't say who from,' Ms Penno said.

 'As time has gone on, it has shown to be far more sinister than what everyone once thought.' 

Jayden Penno's mother, Rachel, told Daily Mail Australia she was worried about her son before he disappeared

Jayden was always a bit of an 'outgoing, larrikin type' his mother told Daily Mail Australia

'I was worried. His actions prior to him going away were different. He was obviously very scared. I knew something was happening, but I just didn't know what.' 

Jayden was sleeping with a knife under his bed and on the lounge with him.

The stretch of road where he was last seen had become known as the 'highway of death' by locals in recent years.

His disappearance adds to a growing list of unsolved mysteries, dating back to the 1970s, that surround the notorious stretch of the Flinders Highway 130km inland from Townsville. 

One of the hardest things for his family is watching Jayden's friends grow up and move into new chapters of their lives, like starting families of their own. Ms Penno said her son loved children 

Pictured: The car Jayden travelled in to Queensland before he disappeared 

His friend Mr Tattersall said the pair had a disagreement but denied it came to physical blows.

According to his version of events, Mr Penno-Tompsett walked into the bush to clear his head, while he simply drove away. 

When he returned shortly later, Mr Penno-Tompsett was still gone. 

He was never seen again.

Magistrate Wilson said there was 'no evidence at all' Mr Tattersall had harmed Mr Penno-Tompsett in any way.

'There are no words to convey my deep and most sincere condolences for your most devastating loss,' she Mr Penno-Tompsett's family. 

Jayden (right) was popular among his social circle but was 'in a bit of trouble' before his disappearance. He was travelling with friend Lucas Tattersall (left) before disappearance

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