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Inquest into death of school girl Nora Quoirin hears teen may have been 'alive and moving' during early searches for her

An inquest into the death of a British school girl, Nora Quoirin, who vanished from a Malaysian jungle resort last August heard yesterday how she may have been "alive and moving" during early searches for her.
Marie Louise McConville

NÓRA Quoirin may have been "alive and moving" during early searches for her, an inquest has been told.

The 15 year old, whose mother is from Northern Ireland, vanished from a Malaysian jungle resort.

Her body was found after a huge hunt through dense rainforest last August.

A policeman told the hearing that the location where Nóra was eventually discovered had already been searched several times but nothing was found.

This suggested she was "not there" when search teams were, the court was told.

Nóra was first reported missing a day after she and her family arrived at the Dusan eco-resort near Seremban, about 40 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, on August 3.

Her body was found on August 13 by a group of civilian search volunteers in a hilly part of a palm-oil plantation about 1.5 miles from the holiday home.

Prayers for her safe return had been offered in Belfast where the teenager's mother, Meabh, is from.

In Meabh Quoirin's home parish, St Brigid’s Church on Derryvolgie Avenue in the south of the city, a Mass for Nóra was held as searches continued.

Many members of the schoolgirl's family still live in the city.

Mrs Quoirin, a former pupil of Rathmore Grammar School, met her French husband Sebastien while studying International Business Communication at the Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry where he was a French teaching assistant.

They went on to get married and had three children, two girls and a boy, of which Nóra was the oldest.

At the inquest yesterday, deputy public prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad asked Supt Mohamad Nor Marzukee Besar how many times had the police searched the exact location of the body find.

Mr Besar answered: "Three times. The fourth day, the fifth day, and the sixth day (of the search)."

Mr Ahmad asked Mr Besar what assumptions he could draw from this.

"We can assume that when the search team was in the area, the missing person was still alive and moving," Mr Besar said.

"So it is possible that when we were there, the missing person was not there."

According to Mr Besar, police last searched the area where Nóra was found on August 9.

Mr Besar also told the inquest that police had performed a further search after Nóra's family told them she had last been seen wearing underwear.

He said that her body was found naked, and this raised the question of where her clothing had ended up.

Despite the extra search, Nóra's underwear was never found, the inquest heard.

Mr Besar also said police believed Nóra had left through an open window in the resort house where her family was staying.

Nóra's family have always insisted it was highly unlikely their daughter - who was born with holoprosencephaly, a disorder which affects brain development - would have wandered off alone.

Mr Besar said CCTV footage from Kuala Lumpur Airport, screened in the courtroom, had shown Nóra walking "normally".

Based on this, he said, police had assumed it was possible for her "to go towards the mountain".

Meabh and Sebastian Quoirin are following the inquest via video link due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They disagree with local police, who believe there was no foul play involved in their daughter's death, and have pushed for the inquest being held in the city of Seremban.

The inquest is scheduled to last until September 18.

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