Forensic expert says Nicola Bulley would have been waist deep in river ‘unless she was pushed’

Peter Faulding says River Wyre not deep enough by bank where Nicola Bulley thought to have fallen

Liam James
Wednesday 15 February 2023 10:34 GMT
Nicola Bulley ‘could have been kidnapped’, says forensic search expert
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Missing Nicola Bulley would only have landed in “waist-deep” water if she slipped and fell into the river - unless she was pushed, a forensic search expert has claimed.

Peter Faulding, who was drafted in to help police investigate the disappearance of the mother-of-two, believes Ms Bulley would have been able to easily stand up and wait for help rather than being swept away down the River Wyre.

“If she slipped down the bank she wouldn’t go far,” he said. “The rocks would hold her in place and she’d only have been waist deep. She could have stood there and asked for help because people do walk by.

Bulley is believed by police to have fallen in the river (Supplied/PA)

“She’d have needed to be pushed extremely hard from behind to have launched herself into the deep water and experienced police divers have searched that thoroughly,” he told Mail Online.

Mr Faulding, a registered search expert with the National Crime Agency who searched the river with his team of experts last week, said he was convinced that had Ms Bulley ended up in the water her body would have been found.

“Bodies don’t tend to move too far. If there were flood waters it would be different,” he added. “But it wasn’t a raging torrent. The river was searched extremely thoroughly by the highly competent divers.”

The search for Ms Bulley has entered its third week. Lancashire Police believe she most likely fell into the river near a bench where her dog and mobile phone were found in St Michael’s on Wyre.

Mr Faulding said the search should extend to sites on-land where it would be easy to hide a body, echoing calls from Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell for “land to be scrutinised”. Other friends and family of Ms Bulley have also disputed the police theory.

Mr Faulding, left, with Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell on a visit to the riverside (PA)

The forensics expert told The Times he had compiled a list of ditches, woodlands and hedgerows “where it would be possible to secrete a body without anyone noticing”.

“I’m looking at Ordnance Survey maps of the surrounding areas to search for possible deposition sites,” Mr Faulding said. He is planning to search the land around the village next week after saying there was no evidence to refute the possibility that Ms Bulley was kidnapped.

“People in the wider vicinity for several miles around St Michael’s should be looking for any suspicious activity,” he said.

Lancashire Police has warned people against taking the law into their own hands after vigilantes descended on the village to pursue their own searches.

Former officers have been critical of the force’s approach to communications, saying vigilantes would be deterred if police clearly explained their methods. “Come out and say, ‘we’ve done this, we have done this CCTV, we’ve done this researching’ to stop people. It’s the messaging, which is the problem for me,” Simon Harding, a former detective chief inspector, told Sky News.

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