Nora Quoirin’s family ‘still think she was taken’ amid ‘dark unanswered questions’

Nora Quoirin’s distraught family still believe the vulnerable teen was snatched out her bed despite a post-mortem saying she died from stress and starvation.

French lawyer Charles Morel, who is acting on behalf of the 15-year-old’s parents Sebastien, 47, and Meabh, 45, revealed this afternoon that the couple have not ruled out pursuing a criminal probe.

The parents, from Balham, south west London, are reportedly waiting for the results of DNA and toxicology tests before making a decision – but said no avenue has been “excluded”.

Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTE, Mr Morel said that the Quoirins “cannot understand how Nora could leave by herself” because of her disabilities.

And he has urged “caution” over post-mortem results which showed Nora died of intestinal trauma.

Mr Morel said: “We don’t want the media to interpret the first result of the autopsy, excluding the criminal hypothesis. It’s too early to say that.

“The family still finds it difficult to understand that she would have gone into the jungle on her own. They are concerned that she did not leave on her own.

She was very shy, dependent on her mother and it’s not in her temperament to go out in the night after a long trip in a place she doesn’t know, in the jungle. They cannot understand how she could leave by herself.

“Even the place where she was found, two kilometres from the resort, it’s very strange that she could go there by herself alone, so we cannot exclude the criminal hypothesis.”

He added of the family: “They loved their daughter, she was an angel.

But they are now concerned about the truth because they owe that to Nora, what happened, how did she die.

“In view of the importance of Malaysia’s image for tourism, the authorities may tend to favour the theory of a disappearance over the criminal hypothesis.”

Police said this morning there was no evidence the London schoolgirl was kidnapped or raped.

Detectives believe she left through the accommodation’s ground-floor aluminium framed window, before her father raised the alarm of her disappearance at 8am the following day.

It is thought she was alive in the dense jungle for six to seven days after vanishing and suffered a slow and agonising death as hundreds of trackers desperately tried to find her.

Nora, who was born with the brain defect holoprosencephaly and was described by her family as “vulnerable”, went missing from the resort of Dusun on Sunday August 4.

Her unclothed body was discovered on Tuesday some 1.6 miles away and she had died between two and four days earlier, a post-mortem examination revealed.

A police chief told reporters that no evidence of abduction or kidnapping had been uncovered “for the time being”.

Her remains were found by volunteer searchers beside a small stream in an area that rescuers had already looked at.

Speaking to the Irish Times on Wednesday, Nora’s grandfather said he believes “someone put” the teenager’s body there.

Sylvain Quoirin also claimed the circumstances surrounding Nora’s death are a criminal matter.

“She wasn’t there yet [during previous searches]. Someone put her there, to get rid of her,” Mr Quoirin said.

“Can you imagine her walking 2.5km, naked and barefoot, over rocks, in the middle of the night?” Mr Quoirin asked. “For me, that’s absurd.”

He added that there are “dark areas that need to be cleared up for the family to be able to grieve in peace”.

Two days after Nora went missing, her family said they did not think she would have wandered off alone and believed she had been abducted.

The Quoirins said her condition meant she was not independent and had difficulty walking.

But Negeri Sembilan state police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said on Thursday that the post-mortem examination had found no evidence that the teenager had been abducted or raped.

He said: “For the time being, there is no element of abduction or kidnapping.”

He said she had died between two and four days previously, from intestinal bleeding, most likely due to starvation and stress.

Four pathologists made their conclusions following a 12-hour autopsy, which was observed by an officer from the National Crime Agency, as well as French and Irish police while it was taking place.

Mr Yusop added: “The cause of death was upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to duodenal ulcer, complicated with perforation … it could be due to a lack of food for a long period of time and due to prolonged stress.”

He said that there were some bruises on her legs but that these would not have caused her death.

Further analysis is due to be carried out on samples taken from her body, he said, adding that Nora’s family are now free to take her back home.

Nora’s uncle Pacome today also spoke out following the announcement of the results and said his family “are dubious” about the police’s theory.

The family are now waiting to hear whether Malaysia’s Attorney General will order an inquest to be held.

And Pacome, a graphic designer, says they are also waiting for further DNA, stem cell and toxicology reports.

“It is important that the criminal hypothesis not be excluded on the basis of incomplete information,” he said.

“How could she have survived for five days in the jungle without food or water, if you believe the theory that she left the hotel on her own?

“We remain very dubious.”

He added: “Her death was caused by a haemorrhage, as they said. But what were the conditions that led to it?

“The findings that were announced in no way discredit a criminal act. She could have been kidnapped and fed at the beginning. There is insufficient evidence to jump to definitive conclusions.”

Nora had lived in London and was the daughter of French-Irish parents.

Ahead of the post-mortem findings, the Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened a preliminary investigation into the teenager’s death, on potential charges of kidnapping and sequestration.

After her body was found, her family said their “hearts are broken” and paid tribute to her as “the truest, most precious girl”.

They said Nora, had “truly touched the world” after her disappearance sparked a huge search operation in Malaysia and good wishes from across the globe.

A book of condolence was opened on Wednesday at the City Hall in Belfast, where Mrs Quoirin is from, with Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane the first to sign it.

He said the teenager’s death was “heart-breaking”, and praised the “clear and positive” show of solidarity from the Belfast public.

A special service was held earlier in the week at the south Belfast church where Nora was baptised and where her grandparents are parishioners.