Malaysian cops searched multiple houses during the hunt for London teenager Nora Quoirin when she went missing from a jungle resort last year because her parents were convinced she had been abducted, an inquest heard.
The 15-year-old’s disappearance sparked a ten-day search through dense rainforest involving helicopters, sniffer dogs and hundreds of volunteers.
Senior police official Mohamad Nor Marzukee Besar told a court in Seremban city today that the family identified three houses where they thought the child might be held.
He said they searched all the houses near the Dusan Resort but did not find the child in any of them.
The resort owner said she could have been taken to a hut deep in the jungle but police only found a man sleeping there. Nora, who had learning difficulties, was eventually discovered dead and unclothed.
This is the second day of the inquest demanded by Nora’s heartbroken parents Meabh and Sebastien, who argued their daughter, who had learning difficulties, would never have wandered away alone.
Yesterday’s inquest heard that Nora’s body had ‘no serious scars or injuries’ to her feet, even though the teenager was wearing no shoes when she vanished from a resort in Malaysia.
But police said foul play was not involved when her naked body was found by hikers beside a small stream about 1.6 miles from the Dunsun rainforest resort. They subsequently closed the case.
Officials pointed to an autopsy claiming she had succumbed to intestinal bleeding from starvation and stress after spending a week in the rainforest.
A lawyer working for the couple highlighted the fact that Nora – who was not wearing shoes when she went missing – had no injuries to her feet, even though she was found one kilometer away from the family’s villa.
The lawyer said: ‘She was found unclothed, without footwear yet there were no serious scars or injuries to her soles?’
Local police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop – who was the first witness called to the inquest in Seremban yesterday – agreed and said Nora had ‘only some minor bruises’, The Mirror reports.
Mr Yusop added: ‘There was no indication the victim was kidnapped.
‘We did not receive any telephone calls – usually in this kind of case we will get a call to say the victim has been kidnapped and is in the hands of certain people, and they would demand a ransom.
‘I believe the missing person actually climbed out of the window.’
When he first met the family, Mr Yusop said they were ‘distraught’ and that he ‘assured the father we will use all our resources to find the missing girl’.
He told the court that he immediately ordered a search after being told she was missing on August 4 last year.
The voice of the girl’s mother calling ‘Nora darling, Nora, Nora, mummy here’ was played in court – a recording that was used in the search for the girl.
A second witness, resort owner Ahmed Bamadhaj, told the inquest that the latch of one of the windows in the bungalow where they were staying was broken.
Pictures of the two windows in the hotel room were shown to the court, including the one with a broken latch. There is no CCTV of the site and the area is not lit up so guests are able to ‘see the stars’.
The Dusun resort, based deep in the rainforest of Negeri Sembilan, consists of seven self-catered bungalows with a maximum capacity of 20 adults.
As many as 64 witnesses are expected to be called to the court including the hikers that found her body, a British forensic expert, Nora’s parents and police officers.
Opening proceedings yesterday, Coroner Maimoonah Aid said: ‘We are here to answer a few questions – who is the dead person, when and how she died and whether anyone was responsible.’
Maimoonah visited the Dusun and the place where the body was found earlier this month in a trip the Quoirin family’s lawyer described as ‘quite thorough’.
Ahead of the inquest, the teenager’s parents described it as ‘a crucial element in the fight for truth and justice for Nora’.
‘We hope that all avenues surrounding Nora’s disappearance will be fully explored and not just the theory which the police has always favoured,’ they said.
They were not present at the inquest because of the coronavirus pandemic but will be interviewed by the coroner via video-link.
Nora disappeared from the resort on August 4 last year.
Her parents have previously said their daughter could not have wandered off on her own as she had poor motor skills and needed help to walk. They also said that her mental age was about five or six years old.
In a statement issued by the Lucie Blackman Trust, a charity which helps British families in crisis overseas, they said in January: ‘It is crucial to understand how Nora came to be found where she was.
‘As a vulnerable child, with significant physical and mental challenges, we strongly refute any conclusion that Nora was alone for the entire duration of her disappearance.
‘We have repeatedly asked the police to clarify answers to our questions in this regard – and we have been repeatedly ignored.’