Nora Anne Quoirin inquest: Resort founder says trespassers ‘highly unusual’ as neighbours know each other, insists compound was secured

Nora Anne Quoirin and her family were staying at Sora House in The Dusun before she was reported missing by her parents on August 4, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Nora Anne Quoirin and her family were staying at Sora House in The Dusun before she was reported missing by her parents on August 4, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — It is highly unusual for someone to trespass into The Dusun Resort compound where 15-year-old Irish-French tourist Nora Anne Quoirin went missing last year as the resort was located in an area where everyone was acquainted with one another, its founder told the Coroner Court today.

Testifying at Quoirin’s inquest as the 40th witness, Helen Marion Todd, who is also the majority shareholder of The Dusun Resort, testified that the resort was as safe as it can be since she began staying in the compound with her family with no incidents of crime reported for the past three decades.

“My husband and I lived in this property for over 30 years. We lived with our family, it has always been a safe place for my family.

“I live in a very open house and anybody can actually climb up the [bungalow] deck if they were fit, but nobody ever has. We have never had a burglary and never had an intruder in any of our houses either,” she said during the inquest hearing that was conducted through video-conferencing.

She further explained how the resort was located within a small valley north of Seremban, with the adjacent areas of the resort consisting of smallholdings mostly owned by people in the region who tend to know each other.

In terms of the resort security, Todd also said the main gate was always locked night and day by the staff whenever they leave after work, adding that it was a motorised auto-gate only unlockable with an electronic remote.

“I think that and the fact we have an auto-gate and the fact that we always had good relationships with the Orang Asli villages here has made us very safe,” she added.

She also affirmed her youngest daughter Haanim Ahmed Bamadhaj was the resort’s manager who was responsible for the resort’s daily operations and that she was not involved with management as she was retired.

Todd also admitted there were one or two places in the resort where the perimeter fencing had collapsed to the ground and thus was not securely in place.

Asked if Quoirin could have climbed over said fencing and ventured into the jungles beyond on the night of her disappearance, Todd agreed that it would be difficult for someone without shoes to navigate the route since it was not an open path.

She also revealed her first encounter of the Quoirins were around 5.30pm on August 3, 2019 when the family were preparing to go on a short walk after checking-in.

She also disclosed that she had approached Quoirin’s mother outside of the chalet and that she was crying at the time following the girl’s disappearance after a ground staff informed her of the incident around 8.30am on August 4, 2019.

It was at this time Todd said she was informed of Quoirin’s condition as a special needs child through her mother.

Todd also disclosed she had asked Quoirin’s father to assist her in the initial search-and-rescue operation within the resort compound for several hours but they failed to locate the missing girl.

13 families had stayed in Sora House prior to the Quoirin’s arrival

Separately, The Dusun resort manager Nur Asmaq Lokman testified that a total of 13 families had stayed in The Dusun’s Sora House — where Quoirin’s family stayed during their trip — between July 5 and August 2 last year.

Testifying at Quoirin’s inquest as the 41st witness, Asmaq also affirmed that she had personally welcomed the family to the resort during their arrival on August 3, 2019.

She also said she brought the family to their accommodation at Sora House upon their arrival and showed them the available amenities within including the bedrooms and bathrooms.

She also testified that she had not informed any families prior to Quoirin’s arrival that a window latch — where Quoirin was alleged to have exited from prior to her disappearance — was malfunctioning, but admitted that she knew of the latch’s condition beforehand.

“I have known the latch’s malfunctioning for a long time and in July, I had asked one of the staff to look for a replacement, but he couldn’t find one.

“And since the Sora House was slated for a renovation in October, I chose to ignore it,” she said.

Asmaq also recalled that Meabh Jaseprine Quoirin, who was Nora’s mother, had inquired about the list of activities the family could do together and settled for a six-hour jungle trekking activity.

“I did tell her that it was not suitable for children to trek for six hours, but Meabh said it was alright because her children were used to walking,” she said, adding that the trekking was to take place two days after the family’s arrival.

When asked how she got to know of Quoirin’s disappearance and whether she had participated in the initial search-and-rescue operation, Asmaq said she was informed through her husband and that she was not involved in the search operation.

Nora Anne, a 15-year-old with learning difficulties, disappeared from the resort last year where she was staying with her London-based family, triggering a 10-day hunt involving helicopters, sniffer dogs and hundreds of searchers.

Her body was discovered close to the jungle retreat and an autopsy found that she likely died of internal bleeding linked to starvation after spending about a week in the dense rainforest.

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