The father of French-Irish teenager Nora Anne Quoirin told the Coroner’s Court today he had heard muffled sounds inside their chalet on the night the teen disappeared from The Dusun resort in Negri Sembilan last year.
Testifying at Quoirin’s inquest as the 36th witness, Sebastien Marie Philipe however said it was difficult for him to describe the nature of the noise as he was half-asleep in a semi-conscious state on the night of August 3, 2019, following a 19-hour flight from London in the United Kingdom to Malaysia.
He explained how he felt exhausted and fell asleep immediately after his children went to bed at around 10.15pm as he had been awake throughout the 19-hour flight.
“After three to four hours of heavy sleep, I was woken up in the early part of the night by an outside noise which I believe came from a nearby chalet where they seemed to be having a party.
“Later, in the night, I heard a muffled noise. I cannot describe what noise it was because I was in a semi-conscious state, that seemed to be coming from the chalet.
“I can feel it was close, but I cannot describe the nature of it,” he said during the inquest hearing that was conducted through video-conferencing.
He was later asked whether such an occurrence was a security concern to him, to which Philipe replied negatively as he did not get out of bed but added that they felt like movement and whispers.
Philipe also dismissed the possibility that said noises came from his missing daughter, stating that his parental instinct would have immediately kicked in as he recognised her voice if and when she called out to him.
Recalling the sequence of events, he said he was the first to discover Quoirin’s disappearance at around 8am on August 4, 2019.
“The side (bed) where Nora was staying was empty. I looked around and tried to keep my composure. Then I called Meabh if she had seen Nora,” he said, referring to his wife Meabh Jaseprine Quoirin.
“Very quickly I realised that something potentially dramatic was upon us. I could not believe that Nora might have gone out of the chalet on her own accord but I immediately, after discovering Nora was missing, started to search frantically around the chalet, by the swimming pool and within a few minutes raised the alert with management that Nora was missing.
“During the first hour, I searched and searched trying to find Nora. We realised very quickly her shoes were there and I could not believe given the difficulty of the terrain and the fact that night was pitch black I felt that Nora could not be far if she had left the chalet.
“But my strong belief was that she might have been taken. It was at this moment Meabh pointed out the window was open, the window she said she had closed the night before.”
Philipe also recalled the unusualness of Nora’s physical condition, in particular the soles of her feet, during his visit to the pathologist to give his permission for an autopsy to be conducted the day she was found on August 13, 2019.
“We saw Nora’s feet and we noticed that Nora’s feet didn’t seem to be particularly damaged, in fact the same, just dirty.
“And as I’d like to think how it’s possible since the police told us Nora had been on the move for seven days and they couldn’t find her. How is it possible, compatible with the state of Nora’s feet?” he said, adding that such circumstances did not seem to match the scenario of someone wandering around a jungle half-naked and with bare feet.
Authorities failed to take matters as urgently
Echoing the testimony of his wife and 35th inquest witness, Meabh Jaseprine Quoirin, Philipe also pointed out how the police were slow to react to his daughter’s disappearance.
“They arrived at The Dusun, my first reaction when I saw two police officers was that I don’t think they fully realise the seriousness of the matter. They did not ask me or my wife any particular questions.
“They went to the chalet, looked around, and that was it. I felt particularly upset by the fact it didn’t seem to be treated as a matter of urgency at the time.
“I think on Sunday (the first day of disappearance) the police were slow to react. That’s a matter of fact more than an opinion. I would agree from Monday evening (second day of disappearance) the police have deployed significant resources to search for Nora,” he said.
He said this was exacerbated by the fact that an initial K-9 Unit deployed to the scene on the first day of the search on August 4, 2019, was not in the most optimal condition to perform its function to search for the missing girl.
“Our morale went down seriously when we realised the dog was not fit for search. I can see within two minutes the dog was already exhausted and not fit for duty. That increased our sense of panic, the feeling of not having adequate resources to find Nora,” he said.
Quoirin’s younger siblings, Innes Julia and Maurice Arthure, are also slated to take the stand as the 37th and 38th inquest witness respectively today, but Coroner Maimoonah Aid has ordered for the proceeding to be conducted in camera due to their status as minors.
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.
The inquest resumes on November 18. – MMO