The family of a girl who died alone in a Malaysian jungle while on holiday are still insistent that she was abducted, after an inquest ruled there was no evidence a third party was involved.
Nóra Quoirin’s parents, from Balham, have said they are “utterly disappointed” after a coroner ruled she probably died as a result of misadventure.
The coroner, Maimoonah Aid, ruled out homicide, natural death and suicide on Monday and said the French-Irish 15-year-old probably got lost after leaving her family’s cottage on her own.
Maimoonah Aid said there were no suspicious circumstances prior to the disappearance, no ransom request and no signs of intrusion into the family’s chalet.
The teenager probably left the family accommodation on her own and got lost, it was concluded. The coroner added at the end of the hearing: “For me to speculate and presume of her actions and involvement of a third party without any proof, that would be a breach of my duty, so the inquiry is hereby closed.”
After a 10-day search, Nóra’s body was found unclothed beside a stream in dense jungle, 1.2 miles (1.9km) away from their resort. An autopsy found Nóra probably starved and died of internal bleeding after about a week in the jungle.
Authorities classified the case as “requiring no further action,” but her family pushed for an inquest.
Nóra’s parents, listening from their home, had hoped for an open verdict at the inquest. They said in a statement afterwards on Monday: “Once again we see justice struggles to support the most vulnerable in society, only engaging with special needs at a surface level, and not at the level that truly reflects children like Nóra.
“We believe we have fought not just for Nóra but in honour of all the special needs children in this world who deserve our most committed support and the most careful application of justice.
“This is Nóra’s unique legacy and we will never let it go. She was simply incapable of hiding in undergrowth, climbing out a window and making her way out of a fenced resort in the darkness unclothed.”
Nóra, whose parents worship at St Bede’s Church in Thornton Road, Clapham Park, went missing overnight while on a family holiday at a resort in Seremban, south of Kuala Lumpur in August 2019.
She had been sleeping in a bedroom with her brother and sister, but when the family woke the morning after arriving, they found she had disappeared.
She was barefoot and wearing just underwear. A large window in the family’s chalet was found open.
Police said their investigations found no signs Nóra had been abducted, and the Malaysian authorities later classified the case as “requiring no further action” – but they did agree to an inquest.
During the hearing, a senior police official, Mohamad Mat Yusop, said he saw nothing suspicious at the chalet where Nóra had been staying, and he believed she had climbed out of the window.
Nóra’s parents criticised aspects of the police response and repeatedly stressed it would have been completely out of character for her to have wandered off alone.
Nóra had holoprosencephaly, which affected both her balance and mobility.
Her mother, Meabh, told the coroner’s court she doubted Nóra, who weighed 30kg (4st 10lb), would have been strong enough to open and climb out of the chalet window. Nóra had never wandered out of their front door at home, the court heard.
Meabh said she feared crucial evidence had been lost because police were too slow to investigate the possibility of a criminal element.
The officer sent to take a statement from her struggled to communicate in English, she said, while some police officials were “quite rude and arrogant”.
Both parents said they had heard muffled whispering inside the family’s chalet on the night her daughter disappeared, but had been half-asleep at the time and so did not act.
The resort’s owner, Haanim Bamadhaj, told the inquest that a window in the chalet was broken and could be opened from the outside.
Almost 50 witnesses gave evidence to the inquest, including a British pathologist who conducted a second autopsy on Nora’s body.
He did not challenge the conclusions of the autopsy completed in Malaysia, but said it was impossible to completely rule out the possibility of a sexual assault due to the condition of her remains.
During her ruling, Maimoonah focused on the fact the family were probably exhausted after a long journey from Britain.
This made it likely the teenager had wandered out of the family’s accommodation of her own accord on their first night at the resort, she said.
The charity for British nationals in crisis overseas, LBT Global, has been supporting the family since Nóra’s disappearance and continues to do so.
The charity’s chief executive, Matthew Searle, said: “This is a hugely disappointing day for the family.
“It is clear that Nóra could not have physically carried out the movements suggested.
“It is crucial that to deliver a comprehensive verdict the coroner would have to have fully taken into account Nora’s condition – that they did so is not immediately apparent. We will support the family tirelessly as they move forward.”
Pictured: Nora Quoirin
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