THE clock started ticking for Jayden Penno-Tompsett the moment he walked off into the scorching heat outside the remote Far North Queensland town of Charters Towers.
Coming down off drugs, he was disorientated and hadn't slept in days.
It didn't take long before he was alone.
Within minutes the first effects of dehydration would begin to take hold.
Within hours his body would start shutting down and police believe before he was even reported missing, he was most probably dead.
What began as a 2300km road trip to Cairns for New Year's Eve, the chance for some mates from Newcastle to get away and blow off some steam, had within 48 hours descended into hell.
A domino effect of missed opportunities and disasters that left Jayden stranded in the scorching heat to die.
It is haunting image of Jayden alone, without any water, as his travelling companion Lucas Tattersall, unable to locate him after searching for hours following an argument over lost drugs, drives away.
On Friday, Queensland Coroner Nerida Wilson handed down her findings into the mystery disappearance of Jayden, then 22, on December 31, 2017.
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Despite an exhaustive search by police and SES, and three-year hunt by Jayden's mother Rachel Penno, no trace has ever been found of him.
At odds with his family who still believe foul play was involved, Coroner Wilson ruled Jayden died of exposure to the elements on, or about, December 31, 2017, in the Breddan district at Charters Towers.
Ms Wilson said there was no evidence of foul play and the late missing person's report, made three days after Jayden was last seen, "seriously disadvantaged police".
She said Jayden's friends were discouraged to report him missing to police because they knew he was carrying drugs and mistakenly thought he had a warrant out for his arrest in NSW.
"The misunderstanding that Jayden walked off in an urban area setting like Newcastle lead his friends into error," she said.
Ms Wilson said when Jayden went missing in the "dry and harsh terrain" he was suffering the "extreme effects of coming off a bender".
"He was in a very bad way," she said.
She found he'd smoked a large quantity of ice and hadn't slept for at least four days.
The only available version of what happened before Jayden went missing came from Mr Tattersall, and "on the whole I accept his evidence", Ms Wilson said.
"There is no evidence at all that Lucas Tattersall harmed Jayden," she said.
The coroner said the "moral failing" of Mr Tattersall, when he drove on to Cairns after being unable to find Jayden without reporting him missing to authorities, was a "different matter entirely"
She said both men were "off their heads with anger, frustration and fatigue" when they got into an argument on the side of the road at Charters Towers before Jayden stormed off.
The court heard he was last seen about 50m from the car, walking towards a fenced paddock.
Outside court, an emotional Ms Penno who came to get closure, said she would continue to fight for justice for her son.
The court heard Ms Penno has been a "fierce advocate" for her son and still believes there was foul play involved in the disappearance, possibly due to drug debts.
Jayden's family has been pushing for a reward in an effort to open new avenues for investigation and Ms Wilson said she would forward the request on for review to the Queensland Police rewards evaluation committee.
"I know there is more to it," Ms Penno said. "Hopefully if we do get a reward...hopefully we'll get more information to help push to have this further investigated."
The family said Jayden was loved by many people and "so much more" than the sum of his last two days that were the focus of the inquest.
The police investigation remains open.