Rugby star Liam Hampson found dead in Barcelona club after going missing for 30 hours
The body of an Australian footy star who died in a Spanish nightclub was found inside an “internal patio” that can’t be accessed by revelers, police have revealed.
Queensland rugby league player Liam Hampson, 24, was found dead, more than 30 hours after he vanished on a night out with NRL teammates in Barcelona on Tuesday.
Horrified club staff found Hampson’s lifeless body and believe he fell 30 feet to his death.
Regional Mossos d‘Esquadra police officers said the reason it took so long to find his body is because it was located in an excluded area of the club.
“It was in an internal patio which was not part of the public area of the nightclub,” police told Daily Mail Australia. “I don’t know how he would have got into that part of the building but he accessed it and from there fell around (30 feet) to an interior patio.
“The fact it wasn’t a public area helps to explain why the workers who raised the alarm didn’t do so until Wednesday lunchtime local time.”
Managers at the Sala Apolo nightclub told News Corp Australia that they were “beyond appalled” by Hampson’s death.
“These are sad and very painful moments. First of all for all the people who are affected by the unforeseeable accident that occurred in the early hours of Tuesday 18th October in the outdoor area of Apolo venue,” the club said in a statement.
“It’s been sad as well for those of us who are part of the organization. The management and the entire Apolo team are beyond appalled by what happened and we express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Liam Hampson. We have placed ourselves at the disposal of the Mossos d’Esquadra police force and will continue to do so in relation to any matter concerning the fatal accident.”
Friends lost contact with the Redcliffe Dolphins player at around 5.30 am, prompting public pleas for help from Gold Coast Titans player AJ Brimson as well as Brisbane Broncos duo Jordan Riki and Jesse Arthars.
In a photo taken by a photographer at nightclub Sala Apolo, Hampson is seen smiling in the background. Riki is in the foreground of the image giving a woman a kiss on the cheek.
Hampson had been enjoying an off-season holiday around Europe with a group of friends including NRL stars Brimson, Riki and Arthars.
“Hey guys bit of a long shot but hoping someone out there could have any information about Liam who has now been missing for 30 hours in Barcelona,” Brimson wrote on Instagram after the group lost contact with Hampson. “Please do not message me unless you have any help or info. We are busy trying to message family members etc. Thanks!!”
On Wednesday night, Hampson’s sister Tiarna shared a heartbreaking Instagram post confirming she had received the “saddest news possible.”
“We are devastated to find out Liam had an accident and did not survive,” Tiarna wrote. “We are so heartbroken. Liam was the best brother I ever could of asked for and made me a better person. We cannot express our grief.
“We cannot thank the boys he was travelling with enough for assisting with his search and made sure his last days were the best of his life. Going to miss you so much, Liam.”
Hampson’s father Brett said the whole family was “devastated” and “heartbroken” by the news.
“Waking up to the news no one wants to hear, we are devastated to find out that Liam had an accident and sadly has not survived,” Brett wrote. “We are heartbroken to say the least. Liam had a heart of gold and was a much loved son, brother, grandson, uncle and friend. Words can not express our grief.
“We can not thank his mates enough for being there with Liam having the time of his life and assisting in the search for our boy. Our thought are with them. We are asking the media to respect our privacy as we work through this time.”
Barcelona police also confirmed to 7NEWS a body believed to be Hampson had been found.
“This morning, nightclub staff where Liam was seen for the last time, found a body on the floor in an area of the nightclub, Sala Apolo,” they said.
Police confirmed the death was being treated as an accident. Spanish news publication El Caso reports police believe Hampson may have died because of an accidental fall.
Riki issued a tribute to Hampson, sharing three heartbreaking Instagram stories.
“I love you my brother you beautiful soul I’m so sorry,” he wrote.
“Can’t put into words how I’m feeling I love you bro I’m so sorry.”
Riki also thanked those who had responded to pleas for information to help the missing persons effort.
“Please know I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped to find our boy words can’t express how grateful I am for you guys,” he said. “Everyone who reached out and posted on your socials and asked for your family/friends to help thank you so much … RIP my beautiful brother.”
Riki also shared a link to a GoFundMe page and said any donations would help Hampson’s family bring his body home to Australia.
“On behalf of Liam’s family and friends we would like to support his beautiful family in helping getting Liam home. Also supporting his family through this difficult time,” Riki said.
“As we all know Liam was a beautiful soul who brought people together with his love, wisdom and jokes. Liam was an outstanding talent on and off the football field if it was helping his teammates win a nail biting game or educating kids and many others on life and his wisdom. We love Liam and any donation would go a long way.”
Sala Apolo is described as one of the oldest dance halls in Europe and hosts events on every night of the week.
Images from the players’ Instagram accounts show the group holidaying through Munich, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Positano and Paris before they travelled to Barcelona.
The group had presumably been coming to the end of their European trip, given preseason training for NRL clubs who missed the top eight this year is due to begin in a couple of weeks.
Hampson attended Keebra Park State High School on the Gold Coast with Brimson before the pair played their junior rugby league together at the Tweed Seagulls.
While Brimson moved on to the Titans, Hampson moved to the Redcliffe Dolphins in Queensland’s domestic rugby league competition where he played as a hooker.
He had played in 37 games for Redcliffe, scoring nine tries. However Hampson was not a member of the club’s top tier list for their inaugural season in the NRL in 2023.