Friday 17 January 2020

'We won't stop fighting for an inquest' - tragic Nora Quoirin's mother

Maebh Quoirin with her daughter Nora who was found dead in the Malaysian jungle. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Maebh Quoirin with her daughter Nora who was found dead in the Malaysian jungle. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Tragedy: Nóra Quoirin was found dead after 10 days missing in the Malaysian jungle. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Family handout/PA Wire...A
Nora Quoirin died while on holiday with her family in Malaysia earlier this year (family handout/PA)
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Nora Quoirin's parents have asked the Irish, French and British governments to publicly join their demand for an inquest into their daughter's death in a Malaysian jungle.

The French-Irish family, who live in London, learnt last Friday that the Malaysian police have decided their daughter's case requires "no further action" and that an inquest has been ruled out.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Nora's mother Maebh said: "What we really need is a beating drum that says this family need answers, we will campaign until it happens. We know the governments - the Irish and French governments - are supporting us. They told us that directly. What we need now are frank, 'in-no-uncertain terms' demands for that inquest to happen."

Nora's body was found more than a mile from the resort where she had been on holiday with her family last August. The 15-year-old was discovered after a 10-day search.

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Tragedy: Nóra Quoirin was found dead after 10 days missing in the Malaysian jungle. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Family handout/PA Wire...A
Tragedy: Nóra Quoirin was found dead after 10 days missing in the Malaysian jungle. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Family handout/PA Wire...A

Exactly what happened to Sebastien and Maebh Quoirin's eldest daughter remains a mystery that has tormented them. The family checked into the Dusun resort for a three-night stay on August 3. Nora slept upstairs with her two younger siblings and was discovered missing by her parents the next morning. The window in the living area of their bungalow was ajar.

Nora, a special needs child, was born with a medical condition known as holoprosencephaly which left her with balancing and co-ordination difficulties. Her disappearance was alarming and out of character. But conveying that to the Malaysian police was hard, said Maebh. "In Malaysia, there is such social stigma attached to special needs. It was all too easy for the Malaysian police to ignore that."

She said it took four days for the police to consider a criminal connection to Nora's disappearance. "They took prints from the window on day three," she said. "It took until the fourth day for a full forensic team to come to the property."

On the tenth day, Nora's body was found, about 2km from the resort, in an area that had already been searched. "We identified Nora's body on the evening that she was found," Maebh said.

The police stopped answering their questions from that point. "We would ask questions and we would be met with blank stares and no responses," Maebh added. Since they left the country it has been "radio silence".

A post-mortem examination found no evidence of foul play and attributed Nora's death to bleeding due to a duodenal ulcer, most likely caused by prolonged hunger and stress.

The Malaysian police had theories about what had happened. "We knew they favoured the theory that she went out either the front door or the window from the beginning. They repeatedly asked us questions about that," said Maebh.

"We know that's impossible. The door was on a spring latch so technically, yes, it's possible to walk out of the door. But the door slammed shut and it created an almighty bang, which didn't happen."

She also discounts the theory that Nora climbed out of the "heavy" window. "She wouldn't have been able to physically push it open," she said. "It was pitch black and Nora would not even have seen it."

On the first day, the family took a short walk around the perimeter of the resort on a designated path when Nora lost her balance and fell and hurt herself. "And that was with us and wearing shoes," Maebh said.

"Nora would never have done what the Malaysian police are suggesting she did of her own accord."

The family are suing the resort for alleged negligence.

Speaking about their first Christmas without their beloved daughter, Maebh described it as "brutal".

"It was very difficult. Nora loved the magic of Christmas, so you can imagine the heartbreak of that. Of course, she was with us in spirit.

"We went to her grave on Christmas Eve and we lit a vigil candle. We went back the next morning to put new flowers on her grave. Nora's light will shine brightly in all of us all the time.

"As a family we just miss her so much."

Sunday Independent

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