One of the last people to see Jack Barnes before he disappeared into the bushland has expressed his heartache for the teenager’s family as their seven-year search for answers continues, revealing the last words he said were ‘don’t stress’.
Jack, 18, was last seen getting out of Courtney Jones’ car near Thornton train station in the NSW Hunter region just before 8pm on November 13, 2016 and heading into bushland.
The teenager did not have his phone or wallet and was wearing a faded blue singlet, blue board shorts and work boots.
He has not been seen or heard from since and his phone and social media accounts have been inactive since then.
A coronial inquest into the disappearance of the apprentice bricklayer continued at Sydney’s Lidcombe NSW Coroners Court on Tuesday.
Several witnesses who saw Jack disappear over the weekend testified. They all told the court they believed Jack was ‘not himself’.
Friend Mrs Jones and her partner Matt Hindwood last saw Jack when he got out of his car near Thornton train station, crossed the road and walked into bushland.
Jack had spent the previous 48 hours at their home in East Maitland.
Ms Jones recalled Jack’s behavior that weekend and ended her testimony with a heartfelt message for Jack’s mother, stepfather and siblings who were at the inquest.
One of the last people to see Jack Burns told an inquest he was heartbroken for his family (pictured leaving the inquest on Tuesday)
Matt Hindwood (pictured leaving the inquest) was one of the last friends to see Jack Barnes and recalled the encounter on the second day of the coroner’s inquest.
The last person to see Jack Barnes (pictured) has recalled the teenager’s final moments before he disappeared without a trace into the bushland.
‘My heart really breaks for them. I wish I could give them more,’ Mrs Jones told the court.
Jack came to Mrs. Jones’s house on the Friday afternoon before he lost his job.
He spent most of that weekend at home with the couple and another friend drinking, watching movies and playing Monopoly.
On Sunday night, the situation escalated when Jack became agitated.
Mr Hindwood and Mrs Jones tried to calm Jack down and moments later, he got into the car with them to be dropped off at East Maitland train station.
‘He was still upset and aggressive,’ she told the court.
‘We kept asking him what was wrong but he said not to push and ‘don’t worry about me.’
‘He said no one cares about him and we don’t need extra pressure.’
Mrs Jones stopped at a nearby IGA to buy cigarettes.
Jack was then told to take her to Thornton station but became agitated again at Houseman Drive near Tripp Close.
‘She started screaming for him to get out of the car,’ said Mrs Jones.
‘He was really angry and paranoid. He was banging the window and quite aggressive at that stage.’
Jack was last seen crossing the road towards the bushland walking ‘at a brisk pace’.
‘I drove off and did a U-turn but when we got past again, we couldn’t see Jack anywhere,’ said Mrs Jones.
Several witnesses told the inquest Tuesday that Jack Barnes was not himself the weekend he disappeared.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hindwood recalled the last moments he and Jack shared together before she disappeared.
The pair became friends after meeting at TAFE nine months ago.
Two days before he disappeared, Mr Hindwood arrived at Jack’s house on a Friday afternoon asleep on his verandah.
Jack told her that he had lost his job after an altercation with a colleague.
‘He was upset and didn’t seem himself,’ Mr Hindwood told the inquest.
He also provided evidence of Jack’s drug use that weekend.
‘He was definitely stressed, I could tell he wasn’t his usual funny self,’ he said.
While driving to Thornton on Sunday night, she tried to calm her friend in the back seat before she started screaming for Jack to get out of the car.
‘He grabbed the back of my seat and shook it,’ Mr Hindwood told the inquest.
She said the pair then spent five minutes smoking cigarettes together as she recalled Jack’s last words.
‘He started to calm down,’ Mr Hindwood recalled.
‘He said ‘I’m going to meet a mate up the road’ and I’ll see him tomorrow and not to stress.’
‘He hugged me and said, ‘See you tomorrow.’
Jack’s mother Karen Goodelz (right), stepfather Michael and younger sisters Makayla and Mia will have a chance to speak about him on the final day of the inquest on Wednesday.
Jack Burns (back left) was not himself after losing his job on Friday, an inquest heard
He recalls seeing Jack walking in the bush before he lost sight.
‘He lived in a suburb and I knew he had a lot of mates in the area so I wasn’t too worried about him,’ Mr Hindwood said.
The following Monday, Mr Hindwood went to work and did not discover that Jack was missing until that afternoon. He then joins the search for Jack organized by his stepfather and siblings.
Jack’s mother Karen Goodelz and stepfather Michael attended the search for a second day on Tuesday, supported by his two older brothers and two younger sisters.
Three final witnesses are scheduled to testify on the third and final day of the inquest on Wednesday.
Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes invited the family to ‘bring the person back to life’ at the end of Wednesday’s evidence.
Jack has been presumed dead since the night he was last seen on 13 November 2016 with no sightings.
Jack would be 25 if he were still alive today.
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