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Nora Quoirin: Malaysia court overturns inquest’s misadventure verdict

Nora Quoirin: Malaysia court overturns inquest’s misadventure verdict

A Malaysian court has overturned the findings of an inquest into the death of the French-Irish teenager Nora Anne Quoirin, stating that the coroner was wrong to conclude she died as a result of misadventure.

The high court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan instead issued an open verdict, which does not rule out the possibility of criminal involvement and could pave the way for further investigations into her disappearance.

Nora, 15, from Balham, south London, went missing while on a family holiday at a resort in Seremban, south of Kuala Lumpur, in August 2019. Her body was found 10 days later, unclothed, beside a stream in dense jungle about 1.2 miles (1.9km) from the resort.

Nora’s parents, Sebastien and Meabh Quoirin, who believe she was abducted, had hoped for an open verdict during the inquest. Instead it concluded in January that Nora most likely died as a result of misadventure after walking into the jungle alone at night.

However, Adnan agreed with Nora’s family that it was unlikely the teenager, who had a developmental condition, had wandered off on her own. “The balance and coordination issues she faced, together with the fact she tired easily, establish in my view that it would have been unlikely that the death was result of misadventure,” he said.

“She was a shy and retiring child who was incurious and unadventurous and who was strongly attached emotionally to her parents. She was also uncomfortable with the unfamiliar,” the Azizul said, rejecting the previous verdict.

Responding to the court’s findings, Meabh Quoirin said the family were relieved by the outcome. “It’s a very big day for us, we’re very emotional,” she told the BBC.

“But we’re very pleased with the outcome. Nora was always going to be worth fighting for and this is the verdict we wanted. It was really the only reasonable verdict open to us in the sense that the proof that we had could only really lead to this road as a credible one as far as we were concerned.”

Nora attended a school for young people with learning difficulties, and had limited verbal communication and difficulties with balance and mobility. She was able to walk on flat ground but could not cope with uneven terrain.

The judge said the resort was located on a steep hill that would have been very difficult for Nora to walk across at night in the dark. To leave the compound she would have had to clamber over broken fencing or squeeze between gaps in the resort’s gate, he said.

Her journey would have become increasingly challenging outside the resort. “In order to get to the location where she was eventually found she would have had to have crossed rocky streams and to have gone up and down steep slopes,” said Azizul. The terrain was tough for the able-bodied and well-equipped adults who had visited the site during the court case, he added. Nora was barefoot when she went missing.

The judge said it was also unlikely that Nora alone would have been able to evade detection for the six days she is believed to have survived in the jungle.

During last year’s inquest, police maintained that their investigation found no sign of criminal activity and that there was no indication Nora had been abducted. However, Nora’s parents have criticised the police for what they saw as a slow and ineffective response.

It was not until days after Nora vanished that police took fingerprints from the chalet, according to Nora’s parents.

The owner of the resort in which the family stayed, Haanim Bamadhaj, has previously admitted that the window of their chalet was broken and that it could have been opened from the outside. Some of the fencing around the resort was also broken.

Nora’s parents told last year’s inquest that they heard muffled sounds in the holiday chalet the night their daughter disappeared.

An autopsy concluded that Nora was likely to have died of starvation and stress. A British pathologist who performed a second autopsy said he agreed with such findings. He said he could not fully rule out sexual assault due to severe body decomposition.

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