The family of Matthew Leveson, a young gay man who disappeared more than five years ago and is believed dead by police, marked his 26th birthday on Wednesday.

Leveson disappeared in September 2007, aged 20.

Matthew’s mother, Faye Leveson, said the family is convinced of his death, but has still not given up hope of finding Matthew’s body.

“The main thing is to bring him home so we can lay him to rest. Everybody deserves to be buried with dignity, and Matty hasn’t got that. He doesn’t deserve to be left out in the bush somewhere,” she told the Star Observer.

She described the messages of support and condolence the family were receiving as “overwhelming”.

“It’s five years down the track and people are still fantastic. We’ve received so much support, especially from the gay community.”

Matthew Leveson was last seen leaving the ARQ nightclub on Oxford St with his boyfriend, Michael Atkins, early on the morning of Sunday, September 23, 2007. He was reported missing by his family two days later after not showing up for work.

Leveson’s car was found abandoned outside the public toilets at Waratah Park Reserve, Sutherland, four days after he was last seen. Police announced they feared he was murdered after discovering the car was wiped of fingerprints.

Atkins was arrested by Miranda Police in August 2008 and charged with Leveson’s murder. He pleaded not guilty and was tried in Sutherland Court House in September/October 2009. The court heard that Atkins purchased a mattock and duct tape the day before Leveson disappeared, and that he had sent Leveson text messages asking after his whereabouts in the days after his disappearance, despite Leveson’s phone later being found in Atkins’ car.

Atkins was acquitted of murder and manslaughter on October 20, 2009.

In February this year, police offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Leveson’s body. Faye Leveson hopes the reward will encourage anyone with knowledge of Matthew’s last hours or whereabouts to come forward.

“There’s someone out there who knows what happened. There’s a reward waiting for that person. We’re still hopeful that we’ll eventually get justice for him.”

INFO: Crimestoppers 1800 333 000

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