Belfast Telegraph

Finding out their beloved girl was helpless and alone has rendered the Quoirins' heartbreak even worse

Nora’s parents Sebastien and Meabh Quoirin
Nora’s parents Sebastien and Meabh Quoirin
Nora with her mum
Malaysian police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop announces the autopsy findings yesterday
Flowers at the book of condolence for Nora at Belfast City Hall
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

The distraught parents of tragic Nora Quoirin were facing even more heartache yesterday after a post-mortem revealed that their beloved daughter had been alive for up to a week after she went missing on holiday.

The autopsy established that Nora, who was baptised in her mother's south Belfast church in 2004, had been dead for around three days before her remains were found.

It meant that she survived for possibly seven days going through what a source close to the family described as "unimaginable anguish and pain on her own, unable to find her way back to the sanctuary of her holiday home".

"It doesn't bear thinking about what Nora must have gone through," the source added.

"And now that her parents know the scale of her ordeal, it will be even more harrowing for them to think she was out there all alone and helpless."

But just as they resolutely refused to give up hope that Nora would somehow be found safe and well, her shattered parents were yesterday still clinging to their suspicions that there was more to the death of the vulnerable teenager than the preliminary autopsy was able to establish.

The post-mortem found no indications of foul play and a senior pathologist said the cause of death was likely to have been internal bleeding due to the rupturing of an intestine brought on by hunger and stress after Nora spent so long in the jungle.

A police chief in the Malaysian town of Seremban, Mohamad Mat Yusop, said that Nora had died up to three days before her body was found at a stream running through a ravine.

It was an area which the police admitted had been searched several times before.

The discovery of her body was the outcome that Nora's parents, her two younger siblings - and the watching, prayerful world including her relatives in Belfast - had been dreading as hundreds of members of search and rescue teams scoured the jungle for the teenager that Malaysia had taken to its heart.

The pathologist found bruising on Nora's legs but said there was no sign of violence, abduction or kidnapping and no evidence of foul play "for the time being".

The report also said there was also no evidence that Nora had been sexually abused.

But even after the autopsy findings were made public, a number of questions were still haunting the Quoirins.

Charles Morel, a French lawyer for the family, said last night that the Quoirins still wanted the police in Malaysia to continue to investigate the case as a possible crime.

Mr Morel said the family was still not ruling anything out "as they remain convinced that it is impossible that Nora left the bungalow voluntarily".

He said the location where she was found meant that she would have had to take an extremely steep path through the jungle.

Mr Morel said that people should be cautious about the first interpretations of the autopsy reports.

He said the Quoirins wanted more information from toxicology tests on Nora's body which medical sources say would give a degree of clarity over whether or not the teenager had been drugged by kidnappers that the family believed had taken her.

Nora's Irish mother Meabh and French father Sebastien, who met at the University of Ulster, have always argued that their daughter who suffered from a defect called holoprosencephaly which limited the development of her brain, could not have left the holiday cottage at the jungle eco-resort of Dusun by herself.

Nora's French grandfather Sylvain Quoirin is the mayor of a small town in Burgundy. He had also spoken of his concerns about his granddaughter's disappearance and over the fact that the area where her body was eventually located, just over a mile from the holiday complex, had been searched before, leaving him to suspect that someone had moved her body to the ravine.

He said it was absurd to suggest that Nora, exhausted after an 18-hour flight from her home in London to Malaysia, had walked so far, naked and barefoot, over rocks in the middle of the night.

Later, a hiker who found Nora's body said he didn't think she could have been at the spot for long.

Nora went missing on Sunday, August 4, when her father discovered she wasn't in her bedroom and police were told it wasn't in her nature to wander off.

The following day the Malaysian police said it was possible that Nora had been abducted but they later denied that any foul play was involved.

On Tuesday, August 6, Nora's family released a statement saying they thought their special girl "with learning and development disabilities" had been abducted.

Over the next few days as searchers played recorded messages from her mother over megaphones in a bid to find her daughter, police talked of examining fingerprints on a window in the holiday cottage, adding however that they weren't ruling anything in or out.

In Belfast, where Nora's maternal grandparents still live, an anonymous donor offered a £10,000 reward for information about her and prayers were offered up for the missing teenager at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast where she'd been baptised.

At City Hall a book of condolence was opened by Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane and it was signed by representatives of every political party.

There was no such sensitivity on social media where ghoulish speculation about Nora's death has been so rife that a charity have called for it to end to spare the Quoirins any more distress.

The Lucie Blackman Trust set up to help people in crisis overseas urged social media users to let the Quoirins "grieve in peace".

Last night police in Malaysia said the Quoirins were free to take Nora's body home to their home in south London.

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