Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Nora Quoirin family 'expects police to do a thorough investigation' into death as post-mortem continues

The post-mortem examination on Nora Quoirin’s body is continuing and a cause of death has not yet been established, Matthew Searle of the Lucie Blackman Trust has said

The post-mortem is ongoing, therefore no conclusion has been reached yet,” he told PA.

He also appealed to people not to speculate on what happened to the London teenager who went missing on August 4 from the Dusun jungle resort in Malaysia.

He said: “There will be a time for comment but that time is not now. Let the family grieve in peace.”

A police press conference, which had been due to take place on Wednesday, is now expected to take place at an as-yet unspecified time on Thursday in Malaysia.

Earlier today, Malaysian police were urged by the family’s lawyer to accept an offer by French authorities to help investigate the death of an Irish girl whose naked body was found near a jungle stream.

“The family expects the police to do a thorough investigation into the incident, including criminal angles,” their lawyer, Sankara N. Nair, told Reuters, clarifying an earlier comment that the family “won’t press for anything” did not mean they opposed a full inquiry.

He urged Malaysian police to accept an offer by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to help investigate the circumstances of the death.

“It’s a very good proposal,” he said. “I hope police will accept the assistance.”

Nair did not elaborate.

Nora’s mother is from Belfast while her father is French. The family is still at the resort, Nair said.

Police said they would answer questions on the incident later in the day.

The family initially feared a criminal angle in the disappearance, saying she had special needs and had never before left her family voluntarily, a British victims’ group, the Lucie Blackman Trust, said in a statement issued on their behalf.

An initial investigation yielded no evidence of criminal behaviour but police would look at all possibilities, Malaysia’s deputy police chief, Mazlan Mansor, said on Tuesday.

The 15-year-old’s remains were discovered by a volunteer at around 2pm yesterday following a painstaking search operation after she disappeared from the Dusun eco complex.

Nóra, who had special needs, was reported missing by her father Sebastien on August 4, the morning after the family of five had arrived at the hotel.

In an emotional statement, the devastated family offered their thanks to those involved in the search for the 15-year-old.

Describing how the teenager had “truly touched the world”, her family said: “Nora is at the heart of our family. She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely.

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

“We will always love our Nora.”

The statement added: “We would like to thank all the people that have been searching for Nora and trying their best to find her.

“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.”

On Monday, Nóra’s mother Meabh had made a heartfelt appeal to find her as a reward of more than €10,000 was offered for information leading to her safe return.

Her body was found close to a stream near the Lata Berembun waterfall in a mountainous area in the rainforest just 1.6km from the Dusun eco resort.

According to Matthew Searle, CEO of the UK-based Lucie Blackman Trust charity which is acting as a liaison between the London-based family and the media, Nóra told her family that she wanted to see a waterfall during her holiday to Malaysia.

Acting on this previously undisclosed information, a volunteer searcher combed the area near the waterfall and made the grim discovery.

Deputy police chief Mazlan Mansor told reporters at a press conference that the remains were winched by helicopter to a hospital mortuary.

He added that the body “was not in any clothings” and that while it remained a missing persons case police were looking into all possibilities including the “angle of criminal investigation”.

Nóra’s Belfast-born mother Meabh Quoirin and French father Sebastien Quoirin endured the grim task of formally identifying their daughter’s body which had been airlifted to the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital in Seremban, about 70km from the capital Kuala Lumpur.

“They are absolutely broken,” Mr Searle told the Irish Independent.

The police investigation will now focus on her final movements and a post-mortem examination, which is due to be conducted today, may provide clues as to how she died.

The rugged area where her body was found had been searched previously as part of a massive search operation that swelled to around 350 people as fears grew for the missing girl.

Many questions remain over how the special needs teenager vanished from the resort on the first night of a two-week family holiday and the subsequent discovery.

The search party of around 350 people involved local tribesmen, a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment, sniffer dogs, divers and drones.

A liaison officer from An Garda Síochána, officials from Scotland Yard as well as the UK’s National Crime Agency, and Interpol were also involved in the search for the schoolgirl.

A tape recording of Nóra’s mother with the heart-wrenching message: “Nóra darling, I love you, Mum is here,” was also played over megaphones in the jungle in an attempt to find Nora in case she had got lost.

Local police had acted on the theory that Nóra’s disappearance was that of a missing persons case, although they did not rule out the possibility of foul play.

However, Nóra’s parents insisted from the beginning that they believed their daughter was abducted and may have been taken from an open window of the cottage where they were staying.

They offered a €10,000 reward – donated by an anonymous business in Belfast – on Monday for any information leading to their daughter’s safe return.

Meanwhile, a forensics team cordoned off the area where the body was discovered after winching the remains to a helicopter to remove it from the dense bush.

Mr Searle – whose charity helps families of people who die or go missing abroad – said the area where Nóra was found “may have been covered in the early part of the search”.

But why her body wasn’t found earlier – especially when sniffer dogs were deployed – remains a mystery.

“It may have been they just got lucky,” he said of the discovery yesterday.

However, how Nóra – who was born with the congenital brain defect holoprosencephaly and had severe developmental delays – died was not disclosed by police, pending the outcome of today’s autopsy.

“We have no indication as to how she died,” said Mr Searle, who is speaking on behalf of the Quoirin family.

However, he said there were no reports of obvious damage to her body – from a struggle, injury or mauling by an animal.

“We heard the body is in good condition. We’ll know more tomorrow,” he said last night.

Meanwhile, her heartbroken family has appealed for privacy to come to terms with her tragic death.

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