The mother of Nora Quoirin, a London teenager whose body was found near a Malaysian jungle resort, has welcomed the decision by a court to overturn an inquest verdict of “misadventure” in her death.
Meabh Quoirin said it was the “only reasonable” outcome after it was changed to an open verdict on Wednesday.
The 15-year-old, a pupil at Garratt Park School in Earlsfield, south London, vanished from her room at the Dusun resort in Malaysia the day after they arrived on August 3, 2019.
Nóra Quoirin’s body was found next to a stream in August 2019, nine days after she had gone missing from the eco-resort where she was staying with her parents.
Her parents believe the teenager, who suffered from a disorder affecting brain development, would never have left the property on her own and must have been abducted.
The family had been dismayed in January when a coroner recorded a verdict of ‘misadventure’ and ruled out the involvement of anyone else in the death.
At the Malaysian High Court today, Judge Azizul Adnan overturned the conclusion and replaced it with an “open verdict”, saying there was “no credible evidence to support any other verdict”.
Speaking following the Malaysian court’s decision, Ms Quoirin said the family were relieved by the outcome.
“It’s a very big day for us, we’re very emotional,” she told the BBC.
“But we’re very pleased with the outcome. Nora was always going to be worth fighting for and this is the verdict we wanted.
“It was really the only reasonable verdict open to us in the sense that the proof that we had could only really lead to this road as a credible one as far as we were concerned.”
The teenager’s disappearance sparked a massive search operation in the jungle surrounding the eco-resort.
The spot where her body was eventually discovered is around 1.6 miles from the property where the family were staying, and had been searched prior to the finding of Nóra.
The family have questioned the effectiveness of the search operation, saying crucial DNA evidence was lost during the nine-day period spent hunting for Nóra.
The teenager had been wearing only underwear when she went missing, and was naked when her body was found. She had died from intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress, pathologists found, but they could not rule out the possibility of sexual assault.
Giving evidence to the inquest, Mrs Quoirin said they heard “muffled whispering” on the night of the disappearance, and Nora was gone when they went to wake her the following morning.
She said her daughter’s disabilities would have made it impossible for her to open the window alone, and insisted if the teenager had got outside she would most likely have sat down to wait for help.
"I have a number of very precise reasons to believe that my daughter was kidnapped. How or why, I’m not qualified to say," she told coroner Maimoonah Aid.
But he went on to rule: “There was no-one involved in the death of Nora Anne.
“It is more probable than not that she died by misadventure, i.e. that she had gone out of the (cottage) on her own and subsequently got lost in the abundant palm oil plantation.”
Overturning that decision, the High Court judge found it was "not probable" Nóra would have left her chalet alone at night, nor that she could "have navigated by herself the challenging terrain in and around the location where she was eventually found".
He added she was a "shy and retiring child who was uncurious and unadventurous, and who was strongly attached emotionally to her parents", and it was "unlikely" she would go out on her own.
Following his ruling, Judge Adnan told the family: "We have not been able to assist you in finding the answers that you may have been seeking, but I hope that these proceedings would have assisted you in some way on the long road towards healing".