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27th Jun 2023

Partner’s heartbreaking final text to Nicola Bulley on the morning she vanished

Steve Hopkins

A corner has recorded a verdict of accidental death

An inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley on Tuesday heard the heartbreaking text he sent her on the morning she disappeared sparking a massive three-week search.

The 45-year-old disappeared after dropping her daughters, six and nine, at school and taking her dog for a walk along the River Wyre in Lancashire, on January 27. Her phone was found on a bench by the river, still on a work call, and the dog was running free.

After 24 days her body was found about a mile away in the river by dog walkers.

The inquest into Nicola’s death began Monday at County Hall in Preston and heard that she drowned, with Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour saying watery fluid and fragments of dirt found inside Nicola’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.”

And on Tuesday, senior coroner for Lancashire, James Adeley, concluded Nicola fell into the river and drowned and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

There was no evidence of alcohol in her bloodstream or the involvement of any third party in causing her harm.

Evidence from world-leading experts on cold water shock suggested Nicola would have died in seconds after inhaling water.

Nicola’s partner, Paul Ansell, told the inquest he text his partner of 12 years asking, “have you got lost? on the morning she vanished.

Her sister, Louise Cunningham, cried as she told how of her sibling’s struggles with menopause and “increased alcohol use” in the months before her death.

Giving evidence afterwards, Ansell said Nicola experienced a “blip” in her mental health over Christmas but was better by January.

He added: “She had a good day the day before [she went missing], came home full of beans, excited with work, with the meetings she had and plans for the year.”

Nicola’s mum, Dorothy, also saw her on the evening before she went missing and told the inquest that “everything was normal” and her dad, Ernest, said the family shared a “lovely evening”. The last words his daughter said to him, he told the inquest, were about her plans to “close a deal”.

Related links:

Inquest hears how Nicola Bulley died

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

Nicola Bulley police issue statement explaining reason for new river search