KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — The High Court today returned an open verdict in the death of French-Irish teenager Nora Anne Quoirin, in a revision of the Coroner’s Court that ruled her death by misadventure.
An open verdict generally means that the death occurred in a suspicious manner, but no one could be held responsible at that stage.
“As I have mentioned earlier, I have very confidence the learned coroner had sought to take every care and diligence in undertaking the inquiry.
“However, having reviewed the material that is before the court, I am of the view that the verdict of misadventure ought to be vacated in the interests of justice and substitute it with an open verdict as there was no credible evidence to support any other verdict,” High Court Judge Azizul Azmi Adnan said in his ruling, delivered through a video-link in a virtual hearing live-streamed through the Malaysian Judiciary’s official YouTube page.
In his judgment, Azizul said he took into account testimonies that the special needs teenager had faced balance and coordination issues, and tended to tire easily. As such, he said it would have been unlikely that her death was due to misadventure as found by the Coroner’s Court previously.
This was also supported by the fact that the challenging terrain and navigating them would have presented as a challenge to someone like Nora Anne’s physique, Azizul said.
“Having examined the written grounds and these reasons in particular I am in the view that the learned coroner was in error to have returned a verdict of misadventure.
“In my view, it was not probable for Nora Anne to have ventured out of Sora House on her own, to have navigated by herself the challenging terrain in and around the location she was found and to have evaded detection for six days while extensive search-and-rescue operations was being conducted,” he added.
He said it must be remembered that the ruling of the inquiry was not to ascertain which of the competing verdicts has the highest possibility of being the correct verdict.
The Quoirins were represented by lawyer Louis Azmi. Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi and Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar acted for The Dusun, a resort in Seremban, Negri Sembilan where the family had stayed in August 2019 during their Malaysian holiday.
In January, Coroner Maimoonah Aid said the injuries sustained by Nora Anne, who disappeared from The Dusun resort was probably self-inflicted and did not involve any third party.
“For me to speculate and presume of her action and involvement of a third party without any proven facts would be a breach of my duty. The inquiry is hereby closed,” she had said in her verdict then.
Nora Anne was a 15-year-old who had a medical condition known as holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to develop normally. She had limited verbal communication and could only write a few words.
She disappeared a day after her family checked in to The Dusun resort, triggering a 10-day hunt involving hundreds of rescuers, helicopters and sniffer dogs. She was subsequently found unclothed in the jungle, in an area that had previously been searched.
An autopsy concluded she likely died of starvation and internal bleeding.
But Nora Anne’s London-based parents dismissed authorities’ claims that their daughter wandered into the jungle alone at night. The Quoirins questioned the findings and insisted she had never before left them of her own accord. They believed she had been abducted and challenged the death by misadventure verdict.
However, local police had ruled out abduction as a motive, saying they found no signs of foul play.