Search icon


06th Feb 2023

Expert dive squad called in by police searching for Nicola Bulley say ‘we’ll find her in minutes’ if she’s in river

Steve Hopkins

But the expert still isn’t convinced Nicola fell in the river

The head of a specialist underwater forensics team called in to help police search for missing mum Nicola Bulley says if she drowned in the River Wyre his team will find her “immediately”.

Peter Faulding, founder of Specialist Group International (SGI), has offered his services to Lancashire Police for free, according to a report on Monday by The Mirror,  and the company is due to launch its “top of the market” 18,000khz side scan sonar later this morning.

Nicola was last seen at 9.10am on 27 January while walking in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, having earlier dropped her daughters, aged six and nine, at school. The 45-year-old’s phone, still connected to a work call, and the dogs lead and harness were found a short time later. Police are now trying to account for a missing 10-minute period.

Faulding believes if Nicola went into the river – which is Lancashire Police’s “main working hypothesis” – and drowned she would have likely got “snagged” within around 500 metres of the point of entry.

Faulding told the Mirror: “If Nicola is in there, we will find her. If she’s there, our sonar will pick her up straight away.

“I will see a body on the bottom. We are dealing with about 10 drownings every summer. We always locate within the hour. It’s that quick, it’s that good.”

Faulding said, if Nicola “accidentally” fell into the river, as suspected, “she wouldn’t have gone far” because it has “shallows and she would get lodged”.

“There’s no way she would have gone out to the estuary. The river’s not in flood, it’s benign.”

Faulding said if Nicola fell into the river and was conscious, cold water shock could have “taken her breath away” and her energy would have been sapped meaning she would eventually drown.

At a press conference last week police noted that Nicola was a good swimmer, but could have been weighed down by the heavy clothing she was wearing that morning.

Faulding said it takes a few days for a body to resurface as it decomposes, unless it is caught on something, but he suggested, if Nicola was a reasonable swimmer, she could have pulled herself out further down the bank, “she wouldn’t have been dragged down, no way”.

Faulding said police likely do have similar sonar but it probably isn’t as powerful as his team’s and they likely don’t have the same level of expertise and personnel to focus on using it.

But, the expert, isn’t convinced Nicola is in the water.

Faulding noted no screams were heard, and “normally people would scream out”, and dogs normally stay with the owner. Nicola cocker spaniel, Willow, was found wandering alone.

“There’s something, in my opinion, not quite right here.”

Over the weekend Faulding branded the police investigation a “mess” and suggested police could not rule out third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance “when they haven’t actually checked”.

Related links:


nicola bulley