SEREMBAN, Sept 14 — Sniffer dogs from the Fire and Rescue Department led searchers for Irish-French teen Nora Anne Quoirin to several spots in the dense jungle near the resort where she had gone missing in August last year, but lost her scent at the rapids, the Coroner’s Court heard today.
Fire and Rescue Department Senior Fire Officer I Fadzil Arshad who was in charge of a four-man team, including two dog handlers, took the stand at today’s inquest.
He said his team was assigned to join the search for the missing teenager by the department’s Operation Centre on August 4, 2019 and told to report for duty at The Dusun resort.
Also part of his K-9 Detection Unit team — based in Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur — were two dogs, a Border Collie and a Labrador Retriever trained to detect missing persons in the forest.
“We arrived at The Dusun at 9.30am on August 5, 2019 and were briefed by the operation officer on the facts of the case. I was then led to the window at Sora House where the victim was claimed to have exited and disappeared.
“After deciding which way I wanted to begin our search, I encircled the villa and reached the main entrance where I was handed a bag of clothing which the victim had worn by the mother,” Fadzil told Coroner Maimoonah Aid.
Fadzil said the Labrador showed a strong response to Quoirin’s scent about 100 metres from the villa window and the assigned handler then encouraged the dog to seek out a potential scent trail.
“However as we went further, the scent began to break up which we believed Nora Anne had passed through [the area] before the dogs came to some sort of pond and a rocky stream,” he said, adding that he subsequently informed his superiors of their discovery.
He added that the team were then tasked with a new search area at a hilly area towards the north of the resort but had returned with a negative search result.
Fadzil said he then informed his superior officer that he wanted to resume his search where the team had left at the pond and water stream with both dogs the following morning.
On the evening of August 6, 2019 Fadzil said his team resumed their search from where they left the previous day where the dogs had reacted strongly near a water stream, before leading the team past an abandoned toilet over a concrete drain and a three-way intersection to reach section of the stream with fast flowing water some distance from the resort’s rear perimeter.
At the water rapid, Fadzil said the dogs continued to react strongly to which he subsequently informed his superiors of the latest discovery.
On August 7, 2019, Fadzil said his team was focused on searching the area around the rapids. They attempted to get the dogs to the opposite bank to continue the search.
However to their surprise, the dogs backtracked back to the spot at the rapids and stood still, showing no response to Quoirin’s scent from that point onwards.
Fadzil said his team’s service was discontinued after August 8, 2019 after they were asked by the police to lead them to the locations where the dogs had reacted strongly.
More detection dog brought in
Leading Fire Officer P. Ravi, also from the Fire and Rescue Department’s K-9 Detection Unit at Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur, said two English Springer Spaniel were further roped in on August 10, 2019 to assist in the ongoing search operation.
According to Ravi, the dogs were specially trained to sniff out dead bodies and his team of four personnel were tasked to look for possible clues as to the whereabouts of Quoirin’s body if any, after the previous day’s search team had obtained new clues.
“We were informed by our Operation Centre on August 9, 2019 around 6pm to report ourselves at The Dusun at 8.30am the following day.
“Our search was centred around a nearby Hindu temple near The Dusun towards a water treatment plant in a radius of one kilometre,” Ravi, who is the 17th witness in the inquest said.
Ravi pointed out in the court his assigned search area, which was noticeably in close proximity to the area where Fadzil’s search team had covered previously.
However, Ravi said the dogs failed to detect any sort of human body within their search area which lasted from 8.30am until 5pm.
Asked whether they were provided with any belongings of the victim to allow the dogs to catch a scent, Ravi said there was no need for it as the dogs were trained to sniff out human bodies specifically.
He said their service was terminated following their findings but were told they might be recalled later.
Another police sniffer dog failed to detect a scent, court heard
Testifying at the 15th witness at the inquest, Lance Corporal Sylvester Kirinus of the police K-9 Unit from Bukit Aman said he was ordered to report to the Pantai police station on August 4, 2019 in relation to a missing persons incident that took place at The Dusun resort.
Like other police K-9 unit handlers that have testified previously in court, Sylvester said he was led to the villa’s window where Quoirin was said to have exited from after arriving at the resort.
However, his German Shepherd dog failed to elicit any positive indication of the girl’s scent during their search on August 4, 9 and August 10.
Previously in court, three police K-9 unit dog handlers said their dogs were unable to catch on a definite scent trail of the girl throughout the search-and-rescue operation which spanned over 10 days.
Quoirin, a 15-year-old with physical and learning difficulties, disappeared from The Dusun 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 about 1.5km from 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 October 1.