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26th Jun 2023

Inquest hears how Nicola Bulley died

Charlie Herbert

Nicola Bulley cause of death

There was no sign she had been harmed or assaulted

An inquest has heard that Nicola Bulley was alive when she fell into the River Wyre and died as a result of drowning.

The inquest into Ms Bulley’s death began today at County Hall in Preston.

Giving evidence, Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour said watery fluid and fragments of dirt found inside Ms Bulley’s body were “typical features we see in cases of drowning.”

Dr Armour said: “I have concluded the cause of death was drowning because of the following factors: the watery fluid within the stomach, the lungs showed typical or classical features we have seen in cases of drowning.”

She added that there was no sign the mum had been assaulted or harmed prior to her death, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Detailing the rest of her findings from the post-mortem examination on February 21, Dr Armour said Nicola had not been drinking before her death, and that the examination found “classic signs” of asphyxia.

PC Matthew Thackery, from the police’s north west underwater diving team, has also given evidence at the inquest.

He said the temperature of the water when Nicola went missing was 4C, and explained that the point in the river where she likely fell would be “very difficult to get out of” due to a man made river wall.

Nicola disappeared while walking her dog on January 27, prompting a huge 23-day-long search. This came to an end on February 19 after dog walkers spotted her body.

The 45-year-old had been walking her spaniel, Willow, near the river in St Michael’s-on-Wyre and was last seen around 9.20am. The dog was later found wandering off its lead. Nicola’s phone and her pet’s harness were found on a bench nearby. Nicola’s partner, Paul Ansell, later raised the alarm when she failed to return home.

During Lancashire Police’s investigation into her disappearance, the force came under fire for deciding to make the 45-year-old’s status as a ‘high risk’ missing person public knowledge at a press conference.

Police said she had a “number of specific vulnerabilities” which they said they would not make public, but later revealed that Nicola had struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.

Related links:

Police to face no action over ‘revolting’ handling of Nicola Bulley case

Nicola Bulley police issue statement explaining reason for new river search