The woman who is cited as the defendant in the civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Franco-Irish teenager Nóra Quoirin, who disappeared and died in the Malaysian jungle last August, says that, “at all material times”, she is “neither the operator nor proprietor” of the Dusun holiday resort.
Lawyers for Nóra’s parents, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin, say in a statement of claim filed on December 24 last year that Helen Marion Todd operates the resort where the Quoirins were staying when Nóra disappeared.
The Quoirins say that the Dusun was unsafe and are claiming at least 183,000 ringgit (about 40,000 euro) in damages,
In a defence document filed at the Seremban Sessions Court in Malaysia today (Friday), Todd denies that she is the sole proprietor of the Dusun, and, consequently, also denies that she is running the holiday resort without a business licence.
Todd states that she is “not liable for the loss and damages claimed” and “not liable at all to the plaintiffs’ claim”.
Todd states that “the plaintiffs as parents are responsible for the care and safety of the deceased at all material times.
“Consequently, the plaintiffs should be held wholly and/or howsoever otherwise responsible for the alleged loss and damages.”
Todd denies the allegations that Nóra’s disappearance and death were caused directly by her “negligence and/or recklessness, both by way of act or conduct and omission”.
She denies all allegations of negligence and denies that she was “in breach of the duty of care owed to the plaintiffs”.
She states that she “empathises” with the Quoirins’ loss.
Nóra’s body was found in the jungle about two kilometres from the Dusun after a massive ten-day search.
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.
Their lawyer in Malaysia, Sankara N. Nair, says he suspects that Nóra was abducted.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers in Malaysia has classified Nóra’s case as requiring “no further action”.
Todd admits that the right latch of the downstairs window in the villa occupied by the Quoirins was broken.
The Quoirins say in their statement of claim that the window in the living area could not be fastened or locked from the inside and could easily be opened by anyone from outside.
Todd states that the general area in which the villa was situated, whilst not fenced, could only be accessed via a gate that was always locked during the night.
“To gain access to this gate, one has to enter another gate, which gives access to the general area where the resort is located. This other gate is located some distance away from the resort,” the defence document states.
The Quorins allege that the entrance gate of the Dusun was kept open at all times.
A ‘jungle retreat’
Todd says the Dusun resort is designed to provide a “jungle” retreat.
“It incorporates an open concept for its patrons. This nature of the resort is made known in its website and its terms and conditions.”
Consequently, Todd states, “in keeping with the nature and size of the resort, no security personnel and other security measures were emplaced”.
She says there have been no security issues and/or concerns at the resort for the past 35 years.
The Quoirins booked a three-night stay at the Dusun and checked in on August 3 at about 1 p.m.
Todd states in the defence document that, at about 8.30 a.m. on August 4, Meabh Quoirin informed the resort staff that their daughter Nóra was not in the villa.
The resort then organised its staff to look for Nóra, she states.
Two families, comprising four adults and two children, live permanently at the Dusun, Todd states.
The Quoirins 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”.
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,” the Quoirins state.
“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.”
In a statement made via the Lucie Blackman Trust, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin said they were shocked by the AGC’s decision to close the case, not least because it is based on a preliminary report from the coroner’s office.
The Quoirins are still awaiting the final results of the postmortem carried out in Malaysia, and of a second postmortem, carried out in London.
They says that, to date, they have only received a short explanation from the pathologists who conducted the postmortem in Malaysia, which confirmed the cause of Nóra’s death as gastrointestinal bleeding and an ulcer, likely brought on by starvation and/or stress.
“We must emphasise, however, that this is only a brief extract of what will be the full postmortem report, which is as yet still unavailable,” the Quoirins said.
“It is critical that we receive this report. It may reveal other significant details that contributed to Nóra’s death, such as why a severe ulcer was triggered so quickly in her body. It is moreover utterly unacceptable that we have not received a single update from Malaysia since Nóra’s death.”
The Quoirins added: “As we have stressed from the beginning of this case, it is crucial to understand how Nóra came to be found where she was.”
In an exclusive interview with Jackie Fox for the Irish broadcaster RTÉ, Sebastien Quoirin said 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, Sebastien Quoirin added. 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. Nóra never even walked as far as her neighbour’s front door by herself, she said.
The first case management hearing in the civil suit proceedings took place on January 21 this year at the sessions court.
Sankara said outside the court: “The place was not safe for the child because of the negligence … anybody could have come in and taken the child.”
The next hearing is scheduled for February 14.