Nicola Bulley’s family slammed online trolls after a coroner ruled that the mother-of-two died by accident after falling into a river near her home.
A statement issued outside the court on behalf of Ms Bulley’s family urged people “people to look at the facts” and ignore on those spreading baseless theories on the internet.
“We encourage people to look at the facts, the evidence which has been heard during the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner, to ignore any amateur views and opinions, and be mindful of the impact words bring,” the statement said.
Ms Bulley died after accidentally falling into the River Wyre in freezing temperatures, an inquest into her death concluded.
She was walking her springer spaniel Willow when she accidentally fell into the water, with experts stating it would have been “almost impossible to swim against the current”.
Breaking: Nicola Bulley died by accident, coroner rules
Nicola Bulley died after accidentally falling into the River Wyre in freezing temperatures, an inquest has found.
The 45-year-old mortgage adviser would have suffered cold water shock which would have produced a “powerful response”, causing her to inhale a fatal amount of water and lose consciousness within a maximum of 45 seconds.
A Home Office pathologist told her inquest at Preston County Hall that her cause of death was drowning, and that there had been no evidence of any third party involvement.
Holly Evans reports:
45-year-old is believed to have suffered cold water shock after falling into the River Wyre
Inquest begins into death of Nicola Bulley
The inquest into the death of mother-of-two Nicola Bulley will begin later on Monday.
Ms Bulley, 45, vanished after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school, then taking her usual dog walk along the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on 27 January.
Her phone, still connected to a work Teams call, was found on a bench overlooking the water.
Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser originally from near Chelmsford but living in Inskip, was immediately deemed a “high risk” missing person, sparking a huge police search operation, with hundreds of local search volunteers and intense media and public interest.
Her disappearance sparked a huge police search and intense public interest until her body was recovered from a river
All we know about the death of Nicola Bulley
Nicola Bulley was last seen near the river at around 9.20am on Friday 27 January, after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at the school in the village.
She was understood to have been walking her dog Willow, a springer spaniel, along the River Wyre.
Around this time she sent an email and logged into a work call which ended 30 minutes later, though she remained logged onto the call.
Here is all we know:
Death of Nicola Bulley
Timeline of events after Nicola Bulley’s disappearance
Here is a timeline of events after her disappearance:
- January 27
8.26am - Ms Bulley left her home with her two daughters, aged six and nine, dropping them off at school and engaging in a brief conversation with another parent around 15 minutes later.
8.43am - She then took her spaniel, Willow, for a walk along the path by the River Wyre.
8.50am - A dog walker who knew her saw her, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways.
8.53am - Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, followed by a message to her friends six minutes later.
9.01am - She logs on to a work Microsoft Teams call.
9.10am - Last known sighting of Ms Bulley by a second witness.
9.20am - Her phone was back in the area of the bench before the Teams call ended 10 minutes later, with her mobile remaining logged on after the call.
9.33am - Another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with her dog darting between the two.
10.50am - Ms Bulley‘s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance. Police are called and she is deemed a “high risk” missing person.
- January 28
Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation.
- January 29
Around 100 locals meet in the village hall to organise a search party. Police urge caution, describing the river and its banks as “extremely dangerous”.
- January 30
Police hold first press conference, Superintendent Sally Riley, from Lancashire Constabulary, said officers were “keeping a really open mind about what could have happened”, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley‘s disappearance as suspicious.
- January 31
Ms Bulley‘s family release a statement saying they had been “overwhelmed by the support” in their community, and that her daughters were “desperate to have their mummy back home safe”.
- February 1
Ms Bulley‘s parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, tell the Daily Mirror of the “horror” they face over the possibility of never seeing her again.
- February 2
Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit search the area close to where Ms Bulley‘s mobile phone was found.
- February 3
Lancashire Police said it was working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.
Supt Riley urged against speculation, but said it was “possible” that an “issue” with Ms Bulley‘s dog may have led her to the water’s edge.
- February 4
Ms Bulley‘s friend, Emma White, cast doubt on the police theory that she fell into a river, telling Sky News it was based on “limited information”.
In a Facebook post, Ms Bulley‘s sister Louise Cunningham urged people to “keep an open mind” as there is “no evidence whatsoever” her sister fell in the river.
- February 5
Peter Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), began three days of searching the river after being called in by Ms Bulley‘s family - but nothing is found.
- February 6
Ms Bulley‘s partner Paul Ansell, in a statement released through Lancashire Police, said: “It’s been 10 days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back.”
- February 10
Police urged people to refrain from indulging in commentary and conspiracy theories about Ms Bulley‘s disappearance as speculation increases online.
- February 15
Police hold a press conference at force HQ and reveal Ms Bulley was classed as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after she was reported missing due to “vulnerabilities”.
They later “clarify” the vulnerabilities and disclose Ms Bulley‘s struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.
- February 16
In a statement released through Lancashire Police, Ms Bulley‘s family said the focus had become “distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her private life” and called for it to end.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded an “explanation” over the disclosure of Ms Bulley‘s private information by the force, following growing criticism of the move.
- February 17
Lancashire Police announced it was conducting an internal review into the handling of Ms Bulley‘s disappearance and the Information Commissioner said he would ask the force questions about the disclosure.
- February 18
Ms Braverman met with police leaders to discuss the handling of the investigation after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also expressed “concerns” about the revelations into Ms Bulley‘s private life.
- February 19
At 2.32pm, Lancashire Police reveals a body has been found in the river after it was called earlier that day at 11.36am to an area of the River Wyre, about a mile from where Ms Bulley first disappeared.
- February 20
The force confirmed the body had been identified as Ms Bulley.
In a statement, Ms Bulley‘s family said she was “the centre of our world”.
Diving expert who led private search for Nicola Bulley says he hasn’t been asked for evidence at inquest
The diving specialist who led a private search for Nicola Bulley in Lancashire has said he has not been asked to give evidence at her inquest.
Peter Faulding, CEO of Specialist Group International (SGI), who had assisted police with previous missing persons investigations, was asked by Ms Bulley’s family to help with the search after she disappeared near her home in St Michael’s on Wyre in January.
His team spent three days scanning a three-mile stretch of the River Wyre using sonar equipment, but did not find any trace of the mother-of-two in the section of the river they searched.
Underwater search expert Peter Faulding and his team were asked to help in the search
Sixteen witnesses to be heard from in inquest
My colleagues Holly Evans and Tara Cobham are reporting live from the Nicola Bulley inquest in Preston.
The inquest is expected to hear from 16 witnesses today, including a Home Office pathologist, a specialist in body recovery from water, a leading detective from Lancashire Police and location experts who analysed Ms Bulley’s FitBit.
Friends of Ms Bulley are also due to give evidence as well as parents from her children’s school. Her husband, Paul Ansell, is listed to speak on Tuesday as part of the two-day hearing.
Groups of people file into chamber for inquest
Tara Cobham reports from the inquest in Preston:
Groups of people, who appear to be witnesses, are filing into the chamber floor for the inquest which is due to start imminently.
Nicola’s partner and sister to give evidence
Nicola Bulley‘s partner and sister are set to give evidence during the inquest into her death.
Paul Ansell and Louise Cunningham are both listed as witnesses, and are due to give evidence on Tuesday.
The County Hall in Preston was busy with members of the public and media on Monday morning ahead of the two-day hearing.
Nicola Bulley’s family arrive in council chamber
The family is filing into the council chamber now, including Nicola Bulley’s husband Paul Ansell.
They were among a group that entered through the door on the right hand side and have taken their seats on the right of the chamber floor.
Inquest begins as coroner passes condolences to Nicola’s family
The inquest has now begun as Tara Cobham and Holly Evans report live from Preston County Hall.
Coroner Dr James Adeley has taken his seat at the front of the council chamber. He passed on his condolences to Ms Bulley’s family, especially her two children.
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