KUALA LUMPUR: A French-Irish teenager with learning difficulties died by “misadventure” after disappearing in the Malaysian jungle on a family holiday and no one else was involved, a coroner ruled Monday.
The mother of Nora Quoirin, watching proceedings online, bowed her head as the verdict was delivered, with the coroner also saying there was no sign the 15-year-old was murdered or sexually assaulted.
The teen’s body was discovered after a massive hunt through the rainforest following her disappearance from a resort outside Kuala Lumpur in 2019.
Police insisted there was no foul play and an autopsy conducted in Malaysia found that she probably starved and died of internal bleeding after days in the jungle.
But her parents thought she was abducted, saying the teen would never have climbed out of the window of the chalet where they were staying in the dead of night, as authorities believe.
However, following an inquest in Malaysia, Coroner Maimoonah Aid ruled she died by “misadventure”.
“After hearing all the relevant evidence, I rule that there was no one involved in the death of Nora Anne,” she told a court in the city of Seremban.
“It is more probable than not that she died by misadventure.”
The teen likely left the family accommodation “on her own and subsequently got lost,” she said, handing down her ruling online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The schoolgirl’s body was found in a stream in the jungle near the resort after a 10-day hunt that included hundreds of rescuers, helicopters and sniffer dogs.
The coroner took two hours to deliver the verdict, going through the testimony from over 40 witnesses that was presented during the inquest from late August to December.
As well as saying there was no evidence to support the theories of homicide or sexual assault, she decided against an “open verdict” — something which the teen’s family had pushed for.
Instead, Maimoonah focused on the fact the family were likely exhausted after a long journey from Britain and activities at the Dusun resort on the day of their arrival in August, 2019.
“The family (were) all jet-lagged and tired,” she said. “Nora Anne had also shown her level of tiredness increase.”
This made it likely that the teen, in a “strange and new place”, had wandered out of the London-based family’s accommodation of her own accord on their first night at the resort, she said.
Maimoonah also noted the teenager’s mother said that she was capable of climbing stairs on her own, suggesting she could have got out of their chalet by herself.
During the inquest, the teen’s parents said they heard mysterious “muffled noises” coming from the accommodation the night of the schoolgirl’s disappearance, fuelling their belief she was snatched.
In their testimony, police had reiterated their view the teen had wandered off alone and defended their approach, insisting a thorough search was conducted.
But her parents, who testified via video-link from Britain, painted a different picture, strongly criticising authorities for their response to their daughter’s disappearance.
The five-hectare (12-acre) resort is next to a patch of thick jungle and in the foothills of a mountain range.
The teen had a condition known as holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to develop normally. She had limited verbal communication and could only write a few words.
She attended a school for young people with learning difficulties.