Saturday 24 August 2019

Nóra's family are treating cause of death with 'caution', lawyer warns

Mystery: Nóra Quoirin, whose body was found close to a waterfall about 2.5km from the resort where she was staying. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Family handout/PA Wire
Mystery: Nóra Quoirin, whose body was found close to a waterfall about 2.5km from the resort where she was staying. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Family handout/PA Wire
Meabh Quoirin helped in the search for her daughter (The Royal Malaysia Police/AP)

Allison Bray

The family of Nóra Quoirin expressed reservations over the results of a post-mortem examination which indicates the schoolgirl died of internal bleeding due to stress and starvation.

French lawyer Charles Morell, representing Nóra's French father Sebastien Quoirin and her Belfast-born mother Meabh, said the results of the post mortem are being treated with 'caution'.

The family "remain convinced that it is improbable that Nóra left the bungalow voluntarily", he said.

The examination revealed the 15-year-old was not sexually assaulted and died from intestinal bleeding about six days after she went missing on August 4 due to stress and starvation.

Her naked body was discovered close to a waterfall about 2km from the jungle resort of Dusun, on Tuesday this week.

That was 10 days after she vanished without a trace from a chalet where her family was staying on holiday. She was found with her head lying on her hands as if she was sleeping.

But questions were raised over the fact that the area where Nóra was found had been searched previously during the massive operation involving more than 350 people, including sniffer dogs.

The family has been adamant since Nóra went missing that the special needs teenager would never venture away on her own.

Mr Morell told RTÉ radio that the family still "cannot understand" how she left of her own volition and they have not excluded any theories as to what happened to her, including possible foul play.

The lawyer said the family is also keen to obtain toxicology results that may shed some more light on Nóra's bizarre disappearance and subsequent death.

Nóra's French grandfather Sylvain Quoirin has also said that he believes the discovery of Nóra's body by the waterfall was staged.

"Can you imagine her walking 2.5km, naked and barefoot, over rocks, in the middle of the night?" Mr Quoirin asked. "For me, that's absurd."

He said there remain "dark areas that need to be cleared up for the family to be able to grieve in peace".

However, Negeri Sembilan state police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said the post mortem found no evidence that Nóra had been abducted or raped.

"For the time being, there is no element of abduction or kidnapping," he said yesterday.

"The cause of death was upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to duodenal ulcer, complicated with perforation … it could be due to a lack of food for a long period of time and due to prolonged stress," he told reporters.

He added that there were some bruises on her legs but they are not linked with the cause of her death.

Meanwhile, the Paris prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into kidnapping as a possible cause of the teenager's disappearance.

It is not uncommon for French authorities to investigate the deaths of their citizens abroad.

However, a spokesman for the Garda press office said gardaí would not follow suit as they do not have the authority to do so in another jurisdiction.

Malaysian police have said they do not believe foul play was involved in Nóra's case, but haven't ruled it out.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of mourners have paid their respects to Nóra and her family at Belfast City Hall, where books of condolence have been opened. Nóra's maternal grandparents live in Belfast as well as other extended family members.

A special public Mass was also being held at the Quoirin's home parish in south London last night.

A large gathering was expected to attend the service at St Bede's Church in Clapham Park, where Nóra made her first communion.

Parish priest Fr Marcus Holden said the Quoirin family are active members of the church and Nóra was much loved and highly regarded within the church community.

The family has declined to speak to the media directly as they come to terms with Nóra's death.

The UK-based charity the Lucie Blackman Trust - which assists the families of people in the UK who have died or gone missing - has been acting as a liaison for the family and the press.

"The Lucie Blackman Trust and Nóra's family will be making no further comment at this time. We urge an end to speculation, please let the family grieve in peace and the authorities do their job. Media will be updated when this changes. Thank you," the trust tweeted.

However, following the discovery of Nóra's body on Tuesday, the family issued a statement in which they said they "are broken" over the death of the teenager.

"Nóra is at heart of our family. She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely," the statement read.

"The cruelty of her being taken away is unbearable. Our hearts are broken.

"We will always love our Nóra."

The family also thanked the hundreds of searchers who took part in the massive search operation, which also involved authorities from Ireland, the UK, France and Malaysia.

"We would like to thank all the people that have been searching for Nóra and trying their best to find her," the statement said.

"We thank the local people here and those far and wide for their prayers and support at this time.

"Nóra has brought people together, especially from France, Ireland, Britain and Malaysia, united in their love and support for her and her family.

"To all our friends and family at home, we can't thank you enough for all your love."

Nóra's baffling disappearance and tragic death has made headlines around the world. Her plight resulted in a massive outpouring of support from well-wishers who have donated €108,000 in a fundraising drive set up by Nóra's aunt.

The mystery of her disappearance unfolded on the first morning of what was supposed to be an idyllic two-week family holiday in the Malaysian rainforest when Mr Quoirin went to Nóra's bedroom on Sunday, August 4, at around 8am and found her missing.

Irish Independent

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