Malaysia

Nóra Quoirin’s parents sue resort operator over teenager’s disappearance and death

An initial version of this article was published by the Irish Times.

Nóra Quoirin with her mother Meabh.

Lawyers in Malaysia representing the parents of Franco-Irish teenager Nóra Quoirin have filed a civil suit against the operator of the Dusun holiday resort where Nóra was staying when she disappeared last August.

The Quoirins are claiming at least 40,000 euro in damages and say that the resort was unsafe.

The defendant in the suit is Helen Marion Todd, who operates the resort.

The statement of claim was filed on December 24 in the Seremban Sessions Court, Negeri Sembilan, by Sankara N. Nair and partners on behalf of Nóra’s mother, Meabh Josephine Quoirin, suing on behalf of herself and her daughter, and Nóra’s father, Sebastien Marie Philippe Quoirin, suing on behalf of himself and Nóra.

The first case management hearing is scheduled to take place on January 21 this year at the Seremban Sessions Court.

The statement of claim states that Nóra went through pain and suffering from August 4 until August 13, 2019.

Nóra’s body was found on August 13 about two kilometres from the Dusun resort by a group of hikers who had volunteered their help. It was the 10th day of a massive search for the 15-year-old schoolgirl.

The Quoirins plead that their daughter’s disappearance and death “were caused directly by the defendant’s negligence and/or recklessness, both by way of act or conduct and omission”.

They plead that the defendant, as the owner/occupier of the Dusun, was “in breach of the duty of care owed to the plaintiffs”.

It is alleged in the statement of claim that Todd operates the Dusun and is its sole proprietor, but, since February 1, 2016, terminated the business registration for the resort.

“Despite the same, the defendant has continued to operate the holiday resort at the defendant’s premise without a business licence,” the statement of claim alleges.

It further states that the latch of a window found ajar in the bungalow where the Quoirins were staying was broken and the window could easily be opened by anyone from outside.

It is also alleged that the perimeter fencing was unsecured, the entrance gate of the Dusun was kept open at all times, and no security personnel were in place to guard the property.

it is further stated that, despite what is described in the statement of claim as the “unsafe conditions” at the Dusun, the Quoirins discovered that there was no closed-circuit television or any other safety facilities installed at the resort.

A spokeswoman for the Dusun resort said that a statement would not at the moment be issued in response to the Quoirins’ allegations.

Nóra’s parents have said that they believe there was a criminal element in the disappearance and death of their daughter and have called on the Malaysian authorities to open an inquest.

Sankara Nair says he suspects that Nóra was abducted.

Sebastien and Meabh Quoirin are making a claim against Todd for special damages in the sum of 152,707.90 ringgit (about 33,372 euro), general damages as assessed by the sessions court, damages for bereavement of 30,000 ringgit (about 6,555 euro), and “damages for pain and sufferings”.

On October 8 last year, through their lawyers in Malaysia, the Quorins demanded that the defendant pay them damages, but, in the statement of claim, it is alleged that Todd “failed, neglected and/or refused to pay any damages”.

It is specified in the statement of claim that Nóra was born with a medical condition known as holoprosencephaly.

“Accordingly the deceased had a mental and developmental disorder together with physical disability, resulting in inter alia, balancing and coordination difficulties and she could fall easily.

“In addition her motor skills and core strength were very poor, and the deceased was unable to walk without the help of an adult. The mental age of the deceased at the time of death was about five or six years old only.”

The statement of claim specifies that, on or about March 18, 2019, the plaintiffs booked and paid for a three-night stay at the Dusun from August 3 until August 6, 2019.

On August 4, at or about 8 a.m., Nora’s parents discovered that she was missing and noticed that the window in the living area of the bungalow in which they were staying was ajar.

“The plaintiffs further discovered that the right latch of the said window was non-existent (broken) at all material times and the said window could not be fastened nor locked from the inside to secure the defendant’s premise wherein the said window could easily be opened by anyone from outside the defendant’s premise,” it is stated.

Photo issued by the Negeri Sembilan police.

After the postmortem on Nóra’s body, Malaysian police said on August 15 that there was no evidence of foul play; no evidence to indicate that she was abducted or raped.

The police said the cause of death was upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to a duodenal ulcer complicated with perforation.

The bleeding in Nóra’s intestine was most likely caused by prolonged hunger and stress, Negeri Sembilan police chief Mohamad Mat Yusof said. He added that the pathologists dated Nóra’s death as two or three days before her body was found, “not more than four days”.

Sankara Nair says there are still more questions than answers about Nóra’s disappearance and death and there is a strong case for Malaysia’s attorney-general to order an inquest.

Sebastien Quoirin told the Irish broadcaster RTE in an exclusive interview that there was “one chance in a billion” that Nóra got lost by herself.

Nóra wouldn’t even go out of the door of her home alone, he said. To think that she might get up in the middle of the night and go out of the bungalow into the jungle, naked and barefoot, in total darkness – bearing in mind that the terrain was extremely  steep and dangerous – made absolutely no sense, he said. “We think it is absurd to think about this possibility.”

Meabh Quoirin said it was impossible to imagine that Nóra could have got any distance at all. She never even walked as far as her neighbour’s front door by herself.

The final results of the postmortem carried out in Malaysia, including the toxicology reports, have not yet been released.

The Quoirins are also still awaiting the results of a second postmortem, carried out in London.

The Dusun resort is located at Kampung Kolam Air Pantai near Seremban, about 60 kilometres from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

My day-to-day reporting about Nóra’s disappearance and death can be found on the Irish Times website.