Malaysian judge overturns inquest verdict of misadventure in the death of teenager Nóra Quoirin
A MALAYSIAN judge has overturned an inquest verdict of misadventure in the death of teenager Nóra Quoirin, changing it to an "open" ruling.
A coroner had previously found that the 15-year-old's death in 2019 was accidental rather than a crime.
But overturning the original ruling, High Court Judge Azizul Adnan said he was "of the view the verdict of misadventure ought to be vacated in the interests of justice and substituted as an open verdict".
The ruling is a legal victory for Nóra's parents, who believe she was kidnapped and had appealed the coroner's verdict which was issued in January.
Her mother Meabh Quoirin, who is originally from Belfast, had said the inquest had brought up more unanswered questions.
Nóra disappeared at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state, a day after her family arrived for a holiday. After an extensive search, her body was found 10 days later beside a stream on a palm oil estate around 1.6 miles away.
A post-mortem examination found she had died three days before her body was found, due to gastrointestinal bleeding from hunger and stress endured over a prolonged period.
Police believed she climbed out of the cottage window on her own, with no evidence of any foul play.
But Nóra's parents believe she was kidnapped because she had mental and physical disabilities and would not have wandered off on her own. She was born with holoprosencephaly, a disorder which affects brain development.
When making the original inquest ruling, the coroner had said there was nobody else involved in Nóra's death.
But her parents dismissed the claims and challenged the ruling. They told the inquest that a third party could have dumped her body in the area following the search for her.
Judge Azizul said he agreed with Nóra's parents that it would not have been probable for her to venture out on her own, navigate the steep terrain and evade detection for days, due to her mental and physical disabilities.
He noted she was shy, attached to her parents and not a curious child.
"I am willing to accept that on the evidence before the court, the possibility of third party involvement was lower than the possibility that Nóra Anne had somehow inadvertently gotten herself into a situation from which she could not extricate herself," he said.
"That does not mean however, that I should enter a verdict of misadventure ... given the evidence that was before the court, I fail to see how it could have been said that it was more probable than not that Nóra Anne had died as a result of misadventure."