New CCTV breakthrough in hunt for missing dog walker as police seek woman in red

Nicola Bulley, 45, a mortgage advisor, was last seen on Friday morning at around 9.20am

Joe Middleton
Thursday 02 February 2023 16:17 GMT
Nicola Bulley: Police search for mother-of-two who went missing walking dog

A CCTV image has been released of a woman in red who may be a witness in the mysterious disappearance of dog walker Nicola Bulley.

Lancashire Police would like to speak to the woman, who officers believe was in the area at the time Ms Bulley was last seen.

She was wearing a red and white coat, light-coloured trousers a bobble hat, and is being sought as a potential witness and not a suspect.

The woman was seen on CCTV at around 8.48am on Allotment Lane, close to where Ms Bulley was last seen. At the time, Ms Bulley is understood to have been on a work call near a bench, shortly before she disappeared.

It comes as Ms Bulley’s tearful family said they are “stuck in a nightmare” and that they “hope she comes home”.

Lancashire Police said they would like to speak to a woman in a newly-released CCTV image who they believe was in the area at the time Nicola was last seen. (Lancashire Police)

Ms Bulley’s two young children believe it is “only a matter of time” until she comes home, their grandfather said in the emotional interview with Sky News.

Ms Bulley’s father Ernie said: “The main thing is that we want to find Nicola, get her back home.

“There are two young children there waiting for their mummy to come back and we want her back obviously also, but if Nicola is out there, if she’s watching this, then all we’d like to say is come home, contact the police, contact ourselves and we just want you back.

Nicola Bulley was last seen on Friday morning (Supplied)

“And they know that mummy’s missing but they know that she’s going to be coming home and everyone is looking for her so it’s only a matter of time, that they’re thinking in their minds, that she’s going to walk through that door.”

Ms Bulley, 45, a mortgage advisor, was last seen near the River Wyre river at around 9.20am last Friday morning, after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at the school in the village.

The mother-of-two had been walking her springer spaniel dog, Willow, along the river, leaving the phone, dog leash and harness on a nearby bench.

A major search has been launched to find Ms Bulley since her disappearance that has involved a police helicopter, drones and sniffer dogs.

Specialist divers have been searching the River Wyre, near to where Ms Bulley was last seen.

A diver searches in the River Wyre, in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

In the update on Monday, officers said they are continuing to search an area around the river near Gastang Road.

Divers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit have been using underwater drones to search the full length of the River Wyre. Police dogs have also been out searching.

Lancashire Police released a timeline of Ms Bulley’s disappearance that tracks her movements from 8.34am, when she dropped her children off at school, to 9.35am, when her phone and dog were found at a bench.

Ms Bulley‘s partner, Paul Ansell, 44, described the situation as “perpetual hell”.

A poster seeking information in the search for missing woman Nicola Bulley is seen near the bench where her mobile phone was found next to the River Wyre (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

In a statement released earlier this week, her family said: “The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola.

“We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their enquiries.”

Supt Sally Riley said: “We know that Nicola going missing has caused a great deal of concern for the wider local community, as well as obviously being an awful time for her family.

“This remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.

Police are searching for Nicola Bulley (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

“I appreciate that there are unanswered questions about what has happened to Nicola, but I would urge people not to speculate or spread false rumours. We will share updates when we can, but we must be factual.

“Nicola’s family are being kept up to date with events and are being supported by officers.

“We are really grateful for the community’s help and co-operation so far, but I’d like to stress again parts of the riverbank are treacherous, especially after the recent rain, and we would ask that nobody puts themselves in danger and that the police and partner agencies’ efforts to find Nicola are not compromised.

“We now want to speak to the woman pictured on CCTV as we believe she was walking in the area at around the time Nicola was last seen.

“If you know her, or believe this may be you, please get in touch. You may not think you know anything but you might have seen something that could be significant.”

Additional reporting by PA

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