SEREMBAN: The High Court here has overturned misadventure as the cause of death of French-Irish teenager Nora Anne Quoirin whose remains were found 10 days after she disappeared from a resort here almost two years ago and substituted this with an open verdict.
High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan said although Coroner Maimoonah Aid had discharged her duty with diligence and care, she had erred by returning a verdict of misadventure.
"A Coroner is required to enter one of five verdicts, which is an open verdict, misadventure, natural death, homicide and suicide.
"To arrive at any of the last four categories of verdicts, there must be positive findings of facts that support such a verdict.
"The proof is on the balance of probabilities and if the Coroner finds that none of the four categories of the verdict has been made out, then he or she must enter an open verdict," he said in his ruling on Wednesday (June 16).
Azizul Azmi said after reviewing the material before the court, the verdict of misadventure ought to be vacated in the interest of justice as there was no credible evidence to support any other verdict.
On Jan 4, the Coroner's Court here had returned a verdict of misadventure in the inquest into her death.
Maimoonah said based on the evidence before her, there was no third party involved in the death of the 15-year-old French-Irish teenager.
The court found that the teenager went out of the resort on her own and subsequently got lost in the abandoned oil palm plantation.
The Coroner said it was not right for her to speculate or presume the involvement of a third party without any proven facts as this would have been a breach of her duty.
Maimoonah in her judgment also said there was no evidence to support claims that Nora Anne died a natural death, had committed suicide or was a victim of homicide.
Nora Anne, who suffered from learning difficulties, disappeared from a resort in Pantai Hill near here on Aug 3,2019, a day after her family arrived for their holiday.
Her unclothed body was found 10 days later next to a stream in a deep ravine near the resort, where the family was staying.
Police had ruled out foul play in her death.
An autopsy on her remains revealed that she had died from internal bleeding, probably caused by prolonged hunger and stress.
She had also suffered intestinal damage and died two or three days before her body was found.
However, her family believed there was a criminal element to her disappearance as she was a special needs child and they claimed she had never before left them voluntarily.
On Feb 5, her parents filed an application seeking a revision of the verdict.
They sought to have the ruling revised to an open verdict as there were questions that had remained unanswered as to what caused her death.
Azizul Azmi, who visited the resort in May, said based on his findings, Nora Anne suffered from a condition where her brain did not develop normally and struggled with balance and coordination.
"Nora Anne did not have the agility or coordination of the average child of 15 and lacked manual dexterity, and tired easily.
"In addition to this physiological limitations, certain aspects of her psychological outlook was also relevant in the present context.
"There was also evidence that Nora Anne was socially shy and withdrawn with strangers," he said, adding that she was neither a curious nor an adventurous child.
He said the path to get to where Nora Anne's remains were found was challenging and it was difficult even for the average person without any physical disability.
Azizul Azmi said the court found that Nora Anne could not have ventured out of the Sora House where the family was staying on her own or navigated the challenging terrain in and around the location by herself.
"If she had left the Sora House on her own, she would have had to either clamber over the broken fencing located on the western border of the resort or squeeze her way between the gaps in the gate at the rear of the resort.
"This would not have been impossible but would have been very difficult for a person with Nora Anne's physical condition," he said.
He said one would have had to cross rocky streamlets and to go up and down steep slopes to get to where Nora Anne's body was found and this would have been challenging to even able bodied men and women.
"To support a verdict of misadventure, the Coroner would have had to find that it was probable for Nora Anne not only to navigate the challenging terrain with her physical infirmities and barefeet but also to have avoided detection for those six days while the extensive search and rescue was being undertaken," he said.
He said the balance and coordination issue Nora Anne faced together with the fact that she tired easily established his view that it would have been unlikely that her death was a result of a misadventure.
The court said the fact that Nora Anne was strongly attached emotionally to her parents and was uncomfortable with the unfamiliar also proved that it was unlikely for her to have gone out of the resort on her own.