Belfast Telegraph

Nora Quoirin: £10k reward in search for missing teen right move, says expert

Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A decision by the parents of Nora Quoirin to offer a £10,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the missing teenager is "the right idea at the right time", a leading child protection expert has said.

Jim Gamble was speaking on day nine of Nora's disappearance as her devastated dad Sebastien and mum Meabh made an emotional plea saying their "hearts are breaking" after the reward money was donated by an anonymous Belfast business.

More than 300 search and rescue personnel have been involved in the hunt for 15-year-old Nora, who vanished, apparently without a trace, from a Malaysian jungle nature reserve 39 miles from Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, August 4.

Her distraught mother Meabh, who is from Belfast, spoke movingly of her "precious" daughter, who has special needs, as she announced the reward in a video statement from Malaysia, where her family are undergoing an agonising wait for news.

"Nora is our first child," she said, fighting back tears.

"She has been vulnerable since the day she was born. She is so precious to us and our hearts are breaking.

"We are appealing to anyone who has information about Nora to help us find her."

The £10,000 reward - 50,000 in Malaysia's Ringgit currency - has been donated by an anonymous businessman based in Belfast.

The generous offer comes as British, Irish and French police joined the search, now in its second week.

It follows news that a shaman drafted in by local police to help with the search yesterday claimed Nora had been lured away from the eco-resort by a "genie".

Mr Gamble, a former RUC officer who is in daily contact with the Quoirin family, told the Belfast Telegraph that a financial incentive was a positive and timely step in the search for the missing teen.

"A reward is absolutely the right idea at the right time," he said. "We're nine days into this. People's heads will be starting to go down. It's about re-enthusing, re-engaging and mobilising greater levels of support.

"Rewards used at different times to deal with different crime types have different levels of success, but the one thing they invariably do is get people's attention.

Members of a team in the latest search for Nora
Members of a team in the latest search for Nora

"The real key for this reward will be how widely publicised it is on the street and in front of Malaysian readers.

"And it really is designed to motivate people to become involved, to be thinking about what they may have seen and, ultimately, to continue to support the search effort."

Mr Gamble stressed that time is of the essence.

"We're in the sixtieth minute of the eleventh hour," he said.

"While we have no news, we still have hope and I don't think anyone should give up hope.

"We need to retain hope and we need to make sure that Nora's parents and her family, who are in the eye of this awful storm, see that nobody else is giving up because that will send a really positive message to them."

Dogs trained in finding dead bodies - cadaver dogs - were also drafted in to help with the search yesterday and they and their handlers roamed the dense jungle surrounding the remote eco-resort in Malaysia.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Metropolitan Police also arrived in the southeast Asian country to aid in the hunt, while officers from France and Ireland are also involved.

Mr Gamble said the British, French and Irish officers are "very clearly in the country in support of the Malaysian authorities, who have taken a very positive lead in all of this".

Local police refused to discuss their role, but it is likely to be on the criminal investigation that is being run parallel to the missing persons inquiry.

Assistant Commissioner Che Zaharia said that police from the three nations were assisting - but wouldn't answer questions about a criminal investigation.

A member of the Garda is in Malaysia acting as a family liaison officer.

Jim Gamble
Jim Gamble

Fears over Nora's safety have grown after it emerged that she was barefoot and only wearing a nightdress at the time of her disappearance.

Her parents have said it was "unthinkable" that she would wander off alone.

Nora was sleeping in the same room as her younger siblings, while her parents were in a bedroom a few feet away.

She was discovered missing by her father at around 8am.

Her parents have told police they didn't hear anything and there were no signs of a struggle.

The only clue to the teen's disappearance was an open ground floor window, which police believe she climbed out of before wandering into the jungle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lucie Blackman Trust intelligence on ops@lbtrust.org or +44 800 098 8485.

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