- Nóra’s parents said they heard muffled sounds in their chalet the night Nóra disappeared.
- Sebastien Quoirin said Nóra lacked the stamina and skills to survive alone in the jungle for seven days.
- Meabh and Sebastien remain convinced that their daughter was abducted.
The parents of Nóra Quoirin, the Franco-Irish teenager who died after disappearing from a holiday chalet in the Malaysian jungle, have told an inquest that they heard muffled noises in the chalet the night she went missing.
Nóra’s father, Sebastien, also said the 15-year-old could not have made her way through dense jungle alone. Police have said Nóra must have been constantly on the move and this is why they couldn’t find her, but her parents say she didn’t have the survival instincts or stamina to do this.
Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin remain convinced that their daughter was abducted. They say she would never have wandered off alone into the jungle. She wouldn’t even go out of her front door at home by herself, they say.
Nóra had learning and physical disabilities. She was born with holoprosencephaly, a rare congenital condition in which there is incomplete separation of the right and left hemispheres or the brain is smaller than normal, which is what happened with Nóra.
The teenager disappeared on the night of August 3/4, 2019. Her naked body was found next to a stream about two kilometres from the Dusun ten days later.
Sebastien Quoirin told the inquest how he went to wake up his children the day after the family arrived at the Dusun resort and discovered that Nóra was not in the bed she had shared with her younger sister on the mezzanine of the ‘Sora House’ chalet. He and Meabh had been sleeping in a separate room downstairs.
He said he heard “some muffled noise” during the night that seem to be coming from the chalet, but he didn’t feel concern so didn’t get out of bed to investigate. He said he couldn’t describe exactly what the noise was as he was half asleep and only semi-conscious.
“I could feel it was close but I cannot accurately describe exactly where it came from and what the nature of that noise was,” he said, speaking via a video link from the family’s London home on November 12.
When giving her testimony, also by video link, on November 11, Nóra’s mother, Meabh, said she had heard whispering voices on the night that Nóra disappeared, and they seemed different to the voices she had heard coming from outside the chalet earlier on.
She said she distinctly remembered being aware of “muffled sounds” in the chalet. “It almost felt very close and like there was some movement, possibly things being moved around,” she said.
“It sounded like there was a conversation happening, but in very whispered voice. I couldn’t distinctly make out speech or anything like that.”
Meabh said she was in between sleeping and being awake so didn’t react beyond being aware of the sounds, and simply went back to sleep. “It caused me no alarm because I wasn’t fully conscious,” she said.
She explained to the inquest that there was no latch on one of the lounge windows at the Sora House chalet so she was unable to close it before going to bed on August 3. It would, she said, have been very easy to open the window from outside.
She said that Nóra would have been incapable of pushing open, and climbing out of, the window,
Sebastien also said he did not believe that Nóra could have climbed out of the window alone. He also dismisses the idea that Nóra would have been on the move alone through the jungle.
“Nóra ’s mobility, Nóra’s balance, was not great,” he said. “She didn’t have any survival instinct.
“Given the fact that she was not clothed – she was only wearing underwear; she didn’t have any shoes – I could not understand or imagine first of all how she could get out of the resort and then venture into the jungle.”
Sebastien said he didn’t believe Nóra would have had the stamina or the strength to be on the move for seven days.
“Nóra would not know what to eat; she would have been seriously dehydrated. I think after a couple of days, if she had been on her own in the jungle, she probably would have been extremely weak and incapable of being very mobile.”
Sebastien also said that when he identified Nóra’s body, he saw that her feet were dirty, but not particularly damaged. This, he said, was not compatible with someone walking barefoot through the jungle for seven days, which is what the police suggested had happened.
Maebh spoke about the nature of the terrain around the Dusun resort. “It was extremely steep, extremely rocky, extremely difficult to navigate across branches, across dense jungle,” she said.
Why did the state of Nóra’s body not reflect that of someone who was constantly moving and constantly exposed to the harshest elements, she asks.
The inquest heard that there were no signs of struggle on Nóra’s body. Maebh said that Nóra was a highly submissive child, who never struggled. “If someone tried to hit Nóra or push her she would let them do it. She wouldn’t try to fight back or resist in any way,” she said.
“If she needed me; if I was beside her she would instantly touch me or hold my hand or lean on me, but, if I wasn’t beside her, she wouldn’t necessarily cry out … she would just be silent and stare at the floor and close in on herself. That would be her normal reaction.”
Nora struggled a great deal with her balance and coordination, Maebh said. “If she would try to run or move quickly she would have a lot of difficulty with that … she would often fall or stumble if she was walking in areas that were not flat or straight.
“She would not be able, for instance, to swim easily or manage any activity that required any sort of balance.”
Nóra’s parents say that crucial time and evidence was lost because the Malaysian police insisted on treating the teenager’s disappearance as a case of a missing person, not a crime.
Meabh Quoirin told the inquest that the police officer sent to interview her struggled to communicate effectively in English. “I could understand her questions, but she really struggled to understand my reply and repeatedly wrote down incorrect information,” Meabh said.
On the first day of the search for Nóra, the police were initially reluctant to continue searching into the night, Meabh said, and it was not until three days after Nóra went missing that police took some fingerprints from the chalet.
It was only at the family’s insistence that, the following day, they eventually took prints from the whole chalet, not just the main bedroom and bathroom. “At that point, my entire family had been in the property,” Meabh said.
Many of the Dusun employees had also been in the chalet and some had touched the lounge window, which the Quoirins had found open on the morning Nóra went missing, Meabh pointed out.
Sebastien said that the K-9 sniffer dog who was deployed to the Dusun on the first day of the search for Nóra appeared unfit for the job.
“Our morale went down seriously when we realised that the dog was simply not fit for purpose. I was there when the dog started to search and I could see after two minutes that the dog was already exhausted and not capable of doing his duty.
“That increased our sense of panic and the feeling that we didn’t have adequate resources to look for Nora properly,” he said.
During a massive search operation, about 300 people scoured the jungle next to the Dusun resort, about 63 kilometres south of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Nóra’s body was found by a group of hikers who had volunteered to join the search. The location had already been scoured many times.
After a postmortem, Malaysian police said that there was no evidence of foul play.
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.
The Malaysian pathologists dated Nóra’s death to two or three days, and no more than four days, before her body was found.
On the anniversary of Nóra’s death, Meabh spoke to Changing Times about what she and Sebastien hoped for from the inquest. “What we want is that no family would ever go through what we’ve had to go through,” she said.
“What we’re looking for is an acknowledgement of the numerous possibilities, and a far greater emphasis on who Nóra was and why it is just impossible to believe certain theories about what might have happened to her.”
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