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'Sex attack can't be ruled out in Nora death case, but there is no evidence', says doctor

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Teenager Nora Quoirin

Teenager Nora Quoirin

Teenager Nora Quoirin

A British pathologist has said there was no positive evidence that an Irish teenager found dead last year near a Malaysian jungle resort was sexually assaulted.

However, Nathaniel Cary, a forensic pathologist who performed a second post-mortem on the body of Nora Anne Quoirin in the UK, also said he could not rule out the possibility, citing severe decomposition.

Mr Cary said he agreed with the Malaysian pathologists' findings that the teenager died of intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress.

He also told a Malaysian virtual inquest into Nora's death that he could not fully exclude the possibility that the teen was sexually assaulted as sometimes it may not show.

Trauma

He also said the poor condition of the body made it hard to determine if there were semen traces or the DNA of strangers.

"I think we can exclude very serious trauma to the genitalia, but I won't be able to exclude minimal trauma because of the decomposition obscuring things," Mr Cary said.

"The difficulty here is because of the decomposition, the forensic evidence would be disadvantaged to an extent."

Nora went missing from her family's cottage at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state on August 4 last year, a day after her family arrived for a holiday.

After a massive search, her body was found on August 13 beside a stream on a palm oil estate about 2.5km from the resort.

She was only wearing her underwear when she disappeared, but her body was found naked.

It was unclear what happened to her underwear, but police said the post-mortem showed no sign that she was sexually assaulted.

Police also told the inquest that investigations showed no criminal activity nor any indication Nora had been abducted.

Police believe she climbed out of a window on her own.

Her family believes she was abducted because she had mental and physical disabilities and could not have wandered off on her own.

Mr Cary said the Malaysian post-mortem had been thorough, but it was difficult to ascertain "in what circumstances the death occurred" due to decomposition.

He agreed with Nora's family lawyer that foreign DNA, if it exists, could have been washed away, as her feet and hands were in water for a few days before her body was found.

Asked by the family's lawyer, Mr Cary agreed he could not exclude the possibility that her body may have been placed there after her death, given that rescuers had searched the specific location.

He also agreed there was no evidence Nora had any major falls in the rough terrain despite her physical disabilities.

However, he said the mul- tiple lacerations and scratches on Nora's body indicated she had moved through dense undergrowth.

The cuts on her feet were also "not trivial", he said.

Nora's parents had told the inquest they noticed her feet "didn't seem to be particularly damaged" when they identified her body.

Instinct

"I see no reason to dispute the Malaysian findings, although like me, the Malaysian pathologists were clearly disadvantaged by the decomposition," Mr Cary added.

Nora's parents in their testimony earlier had spoke at length about her disabilities and said she would not have had the stamina or instinct to survive in the jungle alone.

The inquest is being held by way of video-conferencing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is expected to conclude next month, but a verdict will probably be delivered next year.

The Quoirin family have sued the resort owner for alleged negligence.

They said in their lawsuit there was no security at the site and the window with a broken latch was found ajar the morning Nora disappeared.


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