Nora Quoirin inquest: father says teenager had no survival instinct

Sebastien Quoirin challenges suggestions Nora roamed jungle after going missing in Malaysia

Nora Quoirin
Nora Quoirin went missing while on a family holiday in Malaysia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The father of a London teenager whose body was found in a Malaysian jungle has said his daughter had no survival instinct and was not capable of walking alone through such slippery, hazardous terrain.

Sebastien Quoirin, whose daughter Nora, 15, went missing while on a family holiday at an eco-resort last year, rejected police suggestions that she had simply climbed out of her bedroom window and wandered off during the night.

Speaking by video link at an inquest into Nora’s death, he said such behaviour would have been completely out of character and that she had a neurological condition that meant she would have struggled to venture so far.

“Nora’s mobility, Nora’s balance was not great. Nora wasn’t capable of – she didn’t have any survival instinct,” he said. “Given the fact that she was not clothed, she was only wearing underwear, she didn’t have any shoes, I could not understand or imagine first of all how she would get out of the resort and venture into the jungle.”

He said that when he identified Nora’s body, he noticed that her feet were dirty but not injured in the way that would be expected had she walked barefoot through the jungle for days.

Nora’s body was found unclothed beside a stream more than a mile from the holiday resort after a 10-day search operation. Nora had been sharing a room with her brother and sister. When the family woke one morning, she had disappeared and a large window in the hotel room was open.

Police maintain that their investigation found no sign of criminal activity and that there was no indication Nora had been abducted. Nora’s mother and father have criticised the police for what they see as a slow and ineffective response.

Sebastien Quoirin said rescuers searched the area where Nora was eventually discovered four times, including once with a sniffer dogs, but failed to spot her.

He challenged suggestions that Nora was not found sooner because she had been constantly on the move. His daughter, who had learning disabilities and physical disabilities, did not have the stamina to be walking for seven days, he said. “Nora would not know what to eat, she would have been seriously dehydrated I think after a couple of days … she would have been extremely weak.”

On Wednesday Nora’s mother, Meabh Quoirin, told the inquest she heard “muffled whispering” inside the family’s chalet on the night her daughter disappeared, but she was half asleep at the time and did not act. Sebastien said he too heard such noises.

Meabh also said it was highly unlikely that Nora, who weighed 30kg (4st 10lb), would have been capable of pushing open and climbing out of the bedroom window. Sebastien said Nora had never wandered out of their front door at home.

The resort’s owner, Haanim Bamadhaj, admitted to the inquest in August that the window of the chalet was broken and that it could be opened from the outside.

Some of the fencing around the resort was also broken, Sebastien said, and had Nora walked across it, she would have injured her feet. He said it was possible that Nora was abducted and that the perpetrator abandoned her when they realised she had disabilities and that her disappearance had attracted media attention.

Nora’s parents have described the police response as lacking urgency. On Wednesday, Meabh said the officer sent to interview her could not communicate effectively in English, and that on the first day of the hunt for Nora the police were initially reluctant to continue searching into the night. It was not until days after Nora had vanished that police took fingerprints from the chalet.

An autopsy concluded that Nora was likely to have died of starvation and stress after spending seven days in the jungle. Her family have said many questions remain unanswered. The inquest is expected to continue into December.