Nicola Bulley’s partner ‘DOESN’T think she went in the river’, claims diving expert – as family and friends pray for missing dog walker, 45, at poignant church and roadside vigils two weeks after she disappeared
- Lancashire Police is working under the hypothesis that she slipped into the water
- But it has admitted possibility she left the area by one path not covered by CCTV
Nicola Bulley’s partner now believes the missing mother-of-two did not fall in the water, a diving expert has claimed.
Lancashire Police’s working hypothesis has long been that Ms Bulley ended up in the water after she mysteriously vanished from St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.
Extensive searches have been carried out on the river, with a private diving team also called upon to use specialist equipment, but no trace of the mother has been found.
Peter Faulding, who led that team, was pictured showing Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, around the scene where she went missing two weeks ago.
He claimed today that Mr Ansell is growing less convinced by the police’s theory after being surprised by the minimal depth of the water.
Diving expert Peter Faulding was pictured showing Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, around the scene where she went missing two weeks ago
Lancashire Police’s working hypothesis has long been that Ms Bulley (pictured with her partner) ended up in the water after she mysteriously vanished from St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27
A woman sits on a bench where Nicola Bulley’s belongings were found, as private underwater search and recovery company, Specialist Group International, carry out a sonar search in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire
He told the Sun: ‘He was shocked at how shallow the rocks were yesterday. He thought it was really deep there. If she had gone in she would have landed on the rocks.
READ MORE: Second witness claims they saw ‘shabby and suspicious red van’ in area where Nicola Bulley went missing as police hunt continues
‘The family thanked us for being here. They said ‘You’ve given us confidence now’ and his belief is that Nicola has not gone in that river.’
It comes as friends of Ms Bulley today launched a fresh appeal for information exactly a fortnight on from her disappearance, declaring that her two daughters ‘need their mummy’ and ask every day if she is coming home.
The perplexing case of the missing mother-of-two, 45, has moved millions since she vanished while walking her dog Willow on Friday January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Emma White is among her loved-ones who are holding a vigil in the village this morning and standing by the main road while holding her photograph and urging any witnesses to come forward. Ms Bulley’s face is also displayed on a big screen.
She said: ‘We just need Nikki home for her two beautiful little girls who need their mummy. It’s like torture,’ adding they have not given up hope she is alive.
‘The girls, when they get home from school, ask “any news on mummy?'” and Paul [Nikki’s partner] has to say “no” and he can see the little girls just deflate. The little girl is saying “Is my mummy famous?” I didn’t quite know how to answer that myself… for the wrong reasons.’
She added: ‘Bring Nikki home, come to the sofa, with the girls, with Willow and you can have that happy story because that’s what we’re keeping hope for’.
A Nicola Bulley candlelit vigil is being held today in the local church as the hunt continues
Emma White says Nicola Bulley’s children ask every day if she is coming home
Friends of missing Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire
Two weeks ago today, Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre off Garstang Road in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. Her friend Emma White (pictured together) is among friends holding a vigil today
A lifeboat sweeps the river Wyre multiple times where it meets the estuary of Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire, two weeks on from Nicola Bulley vanishing
Police say that a team of 40 detectives has so far found no evidence of third-party involvement, insisting their ‘main working hypothesis’ is that Ms Bulley drowned and have shifted their search along the River Wyre to the coast.
However, there remains a ‘possibility’ that Ms Bulley left the bench where her dog and mobile phone were found via a pathway not covered by CCTV cameras.
Ms White said: ‘We ultimately have an area out of the river where Nikki may have gone in that we have no footage for. We don’t know if Nikki wandered out or anyone has been seen. This is really crucial and that is what we’re pushing for today to raise that profile.’
Nicola Bulley’s missing two hours: Detectives probe mystery gap between mother’s disappearance and first call to police – as three key CCTV blind-spots are identified
Ms Bulley went missing after dropping her daughters aged six and nine and school and during a walk with her springer spaniel Willow along the River Wyre.
Mothers taking part in the vigil were adamant their friend would not have left her daughters behind voluntarily.
‘I know Nicola and there are only two possibilities – that she was abducted for fell in the river as the police believe,’ said a mother standing in light rain on the Garstang Road.
‘There is no way that Nicola would have gone off on her own and leave her daughters behind. No one knows at the moment and that is why we are here to make people aware.’
Another mum who gave her name as Mel said her daughter was in the same class as one of Ms Bulley’s children.
She said:’ We just want to try and make people think back to a fortnight ago and is they have any dashcam footage that might show Nicola.
‘We are all hoping that she is found and can come home.’
Police are said to be looking for a ‘tatty’ red van that was in the area as detectives trace up to 700 vehicles and their drivers.
It came as the search shifted out to the Irish Sea after a team of expert divers abandoned their search of the River Wyre.
Officers insist their ‘main working hypothesis’ is that Ms Bulley drowned, possibly after ‘an issue’ with Willow.
The group home someone will have seen her alive
People are being urged to call police if they have any dashcam footage from the time she vanished
Ms Bulley, 45, was last seen two weeks ago on the morning of Friday January 27, when she was spotted walking her dog on a footpath by the nearby River Wyre
Friends of missing woman Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre
Ms White said today they will be looking to ‘jog’ people’s memories about the day she went missing.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: ‘It is two weeks today.
‘The local community are coming out to raise that profile, we’re trying to jog anybody’s memory. Dashcam footage of Garstang Road, which is just outside of the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, just by the bridge that you go over.
‘It is quite a key part of the village so people would remember going over it.
‘Did they see anything? We’re out with banners, we’ve got placards of Nikki’s face, we’ve got a moving eight-foot LED board with her face on it with the message “Bring Nikki home”.’
The latest development in the mortgage adviser’s baffling disappearance comes as police issued a dispersal order after amateur sleuths filmed themselves on TikTok trying to get into a large derelict house close to where she was last seen.
Lancashire Police also condemned ‘grossly offensive’ social media messages aimed at Ms Bulley’s family and police, saying they ‘would not hesitate to take action’.
Detectives are probing a two-hour gap between Nicola Bulley’s disappearance and the first call to police to report her missing – as three key CCTV blindspots were identified.
The mother-of-two, 45, vanished at around 9.10am on January 27.
However, the first call about her disappearance did not come until 11am – leaving a near two-hour window between her last sighting and officers beginning their search.
Despite meticulously combing a mile-long stretch of the river, no trace of the mortgage adviser has yet been found.
As the search entered a 15th day on Friday, police moved to the sea to begin trawling Morecambe Bay.
The mother-of-two, 45, vanished while walking her dog along the River Wyre near the village of St Michael’s
Police walk past the bench on the River Wyre which is the last location of a sighting of Nicola Bulley – where her phone and dog was found
Two boats with specialist police teams are searching the coast off Morecambe Bay, around 20 miles from where Nicola was last seen, with police suggesting finding her ‘in the open sea becomes more of a possibility’.
The widening of the search comes despite Peter Faulding, founder of expert search team Specialist Group International, saying it was ‘impossible’ that Ms Bulley could have made it to the sea.
READ MORE: Now police looking for Nicola Bulley issue blanket 48-hour dispersal order in village where mother went missing after amateur sleuths started searching abandoned house along river at centre of mystery
He added that, having used highly accurate sonar equipment over three days, it was his belief that she was not in the river – raising the prospect of a ‘third party’ involvement in the disappearance.
It also emerged yesterday that investigators could be trying to trace a ‘tatty’ red van parked near to where the mother-of-two vanished two weeks ago, after a witness reported it to police on two occasions.
Meanwhile, three blindspots have been identified in the area where Ms Bulley went missing after police admitted she could have left the area via a path not covered by CCTV cameras.
The path in question leads to Garstang Road, which runs through the village, and is therefore a blindspot.
Officers have been attempting to trace dashcam footage from 700 drivers who passed along the route at the time of her disappearance.
Aside from the river itself, there are only two other exits from the area, one of which is covered by CCTV.
Friends of the missing mother have claimed that CCTV covering the other exit, close to mobile home site Rowanwater, is not working.
This camera would have covered the fields to the south of where Ms Bulley was last seen.
After reviewing other CCTV footage from within the mobile home site, police are confident that Nicola did not leave the field near the river via Rowanwater itself.
Another blindspot is a riverside path leading from the Wyreside Farm Caravan Park through to the A586.
A camera at a house close to the path is also understood to have not been working at the time, but did not cover the exit regardless.
A CCTV image of Ms Bulley wearing a long dark jacket and boots prior to taking her two young children to school
Police officers walk past the bench where Ms Bulley’s phone was found shortly after her disappearance
Lancashire Police is working under the hypothesis that she slipped into the water and drowned
Ms Bulley – a 45-year-old mother-of-two – went missing near the River Wyre on January 27
Superintendent Sally Riley this week acknowledged the possibility of Ms Bulley having left the area via a blindspot, but added that ‘every single’ suspicion or criminal suggestion had so far been discounted.
It comes as police today moved the focus of their search towards the sea, with boats trawling Morecambe Bay.
Lancashire Police and a private diving company both conducted extensive searches along the River Wyre.
Two boats with specialist police teams were seen searching the coast off Morecambe Bay, around 20 miles from where Nicola was last seen, with police suggesting finding her ‘in the open sea becomes more of a possibility’.
This is the area police have been searching for almost a fortnight but there is no sign of Ms Bulley
Ms Bulley pictured with her dog Willow during a walk. She was walking her pet when she went missing two weeks ago
Yesterday police sought to reassure the public that their search is still active after no officers or divers were seen at the immediate scene of her disappearance along the River Wyre.
After three days of intense activity with Mr Faulding leading a search on a five-mile stretch of the river, it was eerily quiet with no police around.
Mr Faulding and his Specialist Group International team ended their investigations after he declared Ms Bulley was not in the stretch of river where he had been searching using high-tech sonar.
Police divers had joined in his search – but they were absent and Lancashire Police were forced to assure the public the search was continuing along other stretches of the river than runs into Morecombe Bay.
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