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08th Feb 2023

Nicola Bulley: Police reject suggestion missing mum could have been crime victim

Charlie Herbert

Nicola Bulley

Investigators are still treating Nicola Bulley’s disappearance as a missing persons inquiry

Police have rejected suggestions that Nicola Bulley’s disappearance could have been the result of criminal activity, as the search for the missing mother continues.

The 45-year-old was was last seen walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre at 9.10am on 27 January, having earlier dropped her daughters, aged six and nine, at school. The mortgage broker’s phone was found a short time later still connected to a work call, along with the dog’s lead and harness.

Supt Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, said “every single” potentially suspicious element that had come in had been investigated by detectives and discounted.

She said: “I would like to reassure the community that nothing in this investigation so far, it has been checked out if it has come in suggesting crime, it has been checked and discounted. So every single potential third party line of inquiry and potential suspicious or criminal element has been looked at and discounted.

“It does remain our belief that Nicola sadly fell into the river and that this is a missing persons inquiry.”

Police have said it is a “possibility” she left the area by a path which is not covered by cameras. The path is crossed by the main road through the village, so officers are trying to trace dashcam footage from 700 drivers who passed along the road at the time she disappeared, the Daily Post reports.

This comes after the head of the forensic team drafted in to help search for Bulley had said he was not ruling out “third party” involvement in her disappearance.

Specialist Group International (SGI) were drafted in by Lancashire Police on Monday to help trawl the River Wyre, after police revealed that their main hypothesis was that she had fallen into the river.

On Tuesday morning, Peter Faulding, the head of the team of underwater experts searching the river, was asked what his “gut feeling” was after more than one week of searching has failed to find the mother-of-two.

He replied: “If Nicola is not in that stretch of river today my view is that there could be a third party and that [the phone] was a decoy placed by the river.”

Faulding had previously said that “everything is pointing” to Bulley having fallen in the river, and that he didn’t believe a third party was involved.

He had said that if she had indeed drowned, his team would be able to find her “straight away.”

Faulding has also previously suggested that the phone could have been a “decoy.”

Supt Riley told reporters at a press conference though that Faulding was not included in all the details of the investigation.

She said: “Our search has not found Nicola in the river and then a re-search in parts by SGI has found the same.

“That does not mean… that Nicola has not been in the river. In the light of other inquiries being discounted from the investigation so far… clearly our main belief is that Nicola did fall into the river.

“Mr Faulding isn’t included within all the investigation detail any more than the members of the public are that I’m briefing through these sorts of press conferences.”

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