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Image / Editorial

What really skewed the investigation into Nora’s disappearance, according to her heartbroken parents


by Amanda Cassidy
21st Dec 2019
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The parents of Nora Quoirin have said they believe there was a “criminal element” involved in the death of their daughter. Nora was found dead after a 10-day search around the Malaysian jungle resort of Dusun in August.


“You would do anything for your child,” points out Sebastian Quorin with the determination of a parent fighting to understand how and why his 15-year-old daughter died in an Asian jungle earlier this year. He was speaking alongside his wife, Maeve to RTE in an exclusive interview with reporter Jackie Fox.

Unanswered questions

Now, the couple, with the support of their families, are asking the Malaysian authorities to open an inquest into Nora’s death. They are adamant that there was a criminal element to her death and they want more answers.

Maeve and French-born Sebastian met while he was doing an Erasmus program in Northern Ireland. They moved to London to raise their family, two girls and a boy. Their daughter Nora was born with a rare condition called holoprosencephaly, a disorder that affects brain development. It meant Nora had cognitive and physical difficulties. She attended a special needs school and had coordination challenges.

“She was so courageous. We were told she’d never ride a bike and yet she came home one day with her level one certificate for cycling. She was so proud of herself,” they explain fondly.

The family loved to travel. The trip to Malasia was the “perfect antidote to London life”. They planned to spend three days in the jungle at the Dusun rainforest resort before exploring other areas of the islands.

We insisted from the start that there was a criminal element

Complex

After a BBQ at the bungalow they were staying in, they were jetlagged and were asleep by 10pm. The three children were sleeping at a mezzanine level together. Sebastian and Maeve slept downstairs. Seb said he was first up the next morning, he checked on the children and noticed Nora missing. That’s when the nightmare began.

“It was a very complex situation. You are in the middle of the jungle. The Malaysian authorities deployed considerable means to search for her – 300 people each day, helicopters, drones. But unfortunately, we were not successful. Now we are at the stage where we believe it is one chance in a billion that Nora got lost by herself. We believe it is a basic human right to seek truth and justice for Nora.”

Both her parents say it would be totally out of character for her to simply wander off, especially naked and barefoot, in the pitch black, with her coordination difficulties.“It would be impossible physically and mentally to imagine she got any distance at all. For us, something very complex happened. We insisted from the start that there was a criminal element. We believe that evidence was lost at the beginning of all of this.”

Sadly, 10 days after she vanished, Nora’s body was found naked, by a stream, which many pointed out had already been searched.

But part of the problem with the search from the very start was that Nora’s special needs were misunderstood. Her parents believe that this is what impacted the investigation from the get-go.

Dismissed

“One of the things that was evident was that Malaysian authorities didn’t engage with the fact that she had special needs. This was hugely frustrating and stressful for us. I think it is true to say that people with special needs are still not understood well there. Progress has been made with accessibility but a lot needs to be done. If you look at Asia and Malaysia, there is still a huge stigma attached and children with special needs are largely ignored, not understood. We are determined to fight for her right as a child with special needs. If they listened in terms of her special needs, what she was capable of and not, we could have achieved more.”

We could ask ourselves that if Nora didn’t have special needs, would the investigation have unfolded differently? Was the obsession with her ‘wandering off’ blamed on her special needs, despite the fact that her parents explained that physically she couldn’t have? Were their concerns that she was taken dismissed because of this?

“The PM examination may give us basic answers about what caused her death, but it doesn’t explain any of why she got to where she was found. While we may never get the whole truth, we think it is important to try. It is very hard to comprehend how she got there in the first place. We believe that the inquest is fundamental to find the truth.”

Brave

We will forever be a family of five.

Throughout the interview with RTE journalist, Jackie Fox, the Quoirins remained composed, determined and stoic. They have a job to do — to find justice and truth about what happened to their vulnerable little girl that night. To piece together how they got to this place as they face their first Christmas without their child.

“Will you get closure?” asked the journalist referring to the fight to get the authorities to open an inquest. Maeve answered, her voice cracking with emotion.

“We can only get some degree if we understand what happened. We will be living with the horror of what happened in Malaysia for the rest of our lives. We will seek justice but ultimately, we have to find our peace in our own hearts, we will carry Nora with us forever, she is with us every day. I talk to her every day. She holds my hand. We see her in all that we do at home. We try to live up to what she would expect us to do at home. Closure is a funny word. We will forever be a family of five. But she was so brave and we will do our best to fight for her forever.”

Watch the full interview on RTE here

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