The mother of an Irish-French teenager whose body was found near a Malaysian jungle resort where she vanished while on holiday has said evidence may have been lost because police were slow to act on the possibility that her daughter could have been abducted.
Meabh Quoirin told an inquest into her 15-year-old daughter’s death that she believed she heard “muffled and whispering” sounds of two people inside the family’s cottage the morning Nora Anne Quoirin disappeared, but she took no action because she was asleep and not fully conscious at the time.
Ms Quoirin, who is Irish, said police were more focused on search and rescue, and only started looking for fingerprints and interviewing resort staff several days later, by which time many people had passed through the property.
She said the police officer sent to take her statement also struggled to communicate in English and she had to explain herself repeatedly.
Some senior police officials who later approached her were also “quite rude and arrogant”, telling her to be calm and let police do their job, she said.
“My own understanding was that the dominant commitment was in search and rescue, and it took a long time to mobilise and explore any criminal route,” she told the inquest by videolink from her London home. “I believe that criminal evidence, if it existed, would have been lost during that time.”
Nora’s disappearance from her family’s cottage, the day after they arrived at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state on August 4th last year, sparked a massive search. Her naked body was found on August 13th beside a stream in a palm oil estate about 1.6 miles from the resort.
Police have told the inquest an investigation showed no criminal element, and there was no indication Nora had been abducted. Officers believe she climbed out of a window on her own, and the post-mortem examination showed she succumbed to intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress.
But Ms Quoirin and her French husband, Sebastien Quoirin, say Nora was kidnapped, because she had mental and physical disabilities and could not have wandered off on her own.
Ms Quoirin broke down at one point during her four hours of evidence at the inquest.
She spoke at length about Nora’s disability, saying it would be almost impossible for her daughter — who weighed only 4st 7lb — to push open and climb out of a window with her limited strength and disability. The window could not be locked because the latch was broken.
The children were sleeping in the loft, while she and her husband were in the master bedroom downstairs, Ms Quoirin said, adding that her younger daughter woke up near dusk to go to the toilet and noticed that Nora was already missing, but thought she had gone to sleep with her parents.
Ms Quoirin said that at one point during the night she “was aware of muffled sounds inside”, like two people whispering. “I was in between sleeping and being awake, so I wasn’t really processing my thoughts normally… it caused me no alarm because I wasn’t fully conscious.”
She said Nora would not necessarily have cried for help because she was “highly submissive”, which could prove why there were no marks of struggle on her body. “She would just be silent and stare at the floor and close in on herself,” she said.
The mother noted that the area where Nora was found had been repeatedly searched, and that given the steep and hilly terrain, her body was in fairly good condition, with only minor bruises and scratches. “Why does her state of body not reflect that of someone constantly moving or exposed to the harshest of elements?” she said.
“I don’t want to speculate on the motivation of the abduction,” she said. “It is possible and reasonable to believe that any plan that was conceived at any point may have to change by the sheer volume of attention focused on Nora’s case. I believe that Nora could have subsequently been released by her captors.”
Her husband is due to give evidence on Thursday. Nora’s two siblings will also give evidence in private.
Later this month, a British doctor who conducted a second post-mortem on the teenager’s body will also give evidence remotely.
The Quoirin family has sued the resort owner for alleged negligence, saying there was no security at the resort and a cottage window with a broken latch was found ajar the morning Nora disappeared.