KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The father of a French-Irish teenager who was found dead last year near a Malaysian jungle resort after vanishing on a holiday said Thursday that his daughter would not have had the stamina or instinct to survive for days in the jungle.
Sebastien Quoirin told an inquest into Nora Anne Quoirin’s death that the condition of the 15-year-old’s body also didn’t support the police theory that she ventured out of the family’s cottage on her own, walked and hid in the forest.
He said he had visited the area where Nora’s body was found, which involved a drive out of the resort and another hour of walking along a rocky stream in dense and slippery terrain.
“I don’t believe she would have coped at all … she didn’t have a survival instinct,” the French man said via video link from his London home. “I don’t believe Nora would have had the stamina or the strength to be on the move for … days. Nora would not know what to eat, she would be seriously dehydrated … she would be very weak.”
Related: Malaysia inquest into Irish girl jungle death
Nora’s disappearance from her family’s cottage at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state on Aug. 4 last year, a day after her family arrived for their vacation, sparked a massive search. Her body was found on Aug. 13 beside a stream in a palm oil estate about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from the resort.
Her family believes she was abducted because she had mental and physical disabilities and couldn’t have wandered off on her own.
Police told the inquest that an investigation showed no criminal activity and no indication Nora had been abducted. Police believe she climbed out of a window on her own, and the autopsy showed she succumbed to intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress.
Quoirin said rescuers had combed the area where she was found four times including once with a canine unit but failed to spot her.
When he and his wife were asked to identify the body, he said they noticed that Nora’s feet “didn’t seem to be particularly damaged” and were only dirty.
“I try to think how was it possible since the police told us Nora has been on the move. … I am not an expert but to us, Nora’s body didn’t seem compatible of someone wandering off in the jungle, half naked without shoes,” he said.
Quoirin said Nora’s normal reaction when she felt scared would have been to “freeze, look down and call for mummy or daddy.”
He said it was possible that abductors later released Nora due to her handicap, the massive search operation and the media attention to the case.
The girl’s Irish mother, Meabh Quoirin, spoke at length about Nora’s disability in her testimony Wednesday. She has said it would be near impossible for her daughter to push open and climb out a window in the cottage. The window wasn’t locked because the latch was broken.
She said Nora and her two siblings were wearing only their underwear when they went to bed because it was a hot night. Nora’s body was found naked, and it was unclear what happened to her panties, but police said the autopsy showed no sign she was sexually assaulted.
The couple’s two younger children were to testify later Thursday in private. The inquest is being held via video-conferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Later this month, a British doctor who conducted a second autopsy will also testify remotely.
The Quoirin family has sued the resort owner for alleged negligence. They said in their lawsuit that there was no security at the resort and that the window with a broken latch was found ajar the morning Nora disappeared.