THE dive expert who helped lead the search for Nicola Bulley says it is "near impossible" the mum was carried out to sea.

Peter Faulding and his team spent three days assisting police divers scouring Lancashire's River Wyre with Sonar near to where Nicola was last seen.

But his forensics team ended their role in the search around St Michael's on Wyre on Wednesday having found "no sign" of the mum-of-two.

As the search for Nicola moved 20 miles downstream to Fleetwood, Morecambe Bay, on Thursday, the veteran diver said there is "no way she would have gone out to sea".

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Faulding added: "Even in the unlikely event [her body] made it over the weir there are too many shallow areas.

"It would get jammed, and people would see [the body]."

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It comes as…

  • Nicola's partner Paul Ansell says he believes a local is responsible for her disappearance.
  • Heartbroken Paul begs Nicola Bulley to "just come home" in an emotional message
  • Cops confirm they are hunting the owner of a red van seen in the area where the mum vanished
  • The morning Nicola vanished felt "different" to others, says Paul Ansell
  • Nicola Bulley's children ask if "mummy is famous" as search continues into 14th day
  • Nicola's partner Paul says that he expected to be a suspect in her disappearance

The rescue diver of 25 years told how he hurled a big stick in the water as part of his investigation.

It "didn't move" for 20-minutes he claimed, "which makes it unlikely that a body would move from the spot either", he stressed.

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Nicola Bulley’s partner believes a local is responsible for disappearance

Nicola, 45, vanished after dropping her children off at school in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, on Friday January 27.

The mortgage advisor was last seen walking springer spaniel Willow along a towpath near the river at around 9.10am.

But Mr Faulding – who offered his private Specialist Investigation Group (SIG) services for free – thinks it was the "worst mistake" for cops to declare early that Nicola is in the river.

He also dismissed claims the mum, from nearby Inskip, may have drowned after slipping and banging her head.

Ending search efforts on Wednesday, he told reporters he had run Sonar up to four miles down from the bench where Nicola's phone and dog harness were found, to a bridge.

His team also checked the weir, then back again, but despite a relentless search that saw police divers scour the stretch "three times extremely thoroughly" – there is no sign of her.

Despite his insistence Nicola is not at sea, Lancashire Constabulary say there is "more of a possibility" she is.

Two specialist boats with police teams are involved in the search off the coast of Morecambe Bay.

It comes as police are also probing reports of a “shabby and suspicious” red van near where Nicola Bulley disappeared.

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The vehicle was spotted close to the mum’s walking route on the morning she went missing.

It follows claims by Nicola's partner Paul Ansell that he believes a local is responsible for her disappearance.

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