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”.
Coroner addresses intense media speculation and public interest
The coroner has referenced the intense media and public interest in Ms Bulley’s death. He said the inquest “is not designed to address social media issues” nor “to advance theories those on social media contribute to”.
As a result of the “substantial social media interest and unusual social media commentary” surrounding Ms Bulley’s death, said the coroner, Lancashire County Council thought it necessary to put in additional security measures to ensure the safety of everyone attending the inquest.
He added a warning, which he said he did not usually do: “If anyone has the slightest idea of disrupting this inquest, they should be aware that this should amount to contempt of court.”
Nicola Bulley’s cause of death was drowning
Nicola Bulley’s cause of death was drowning, the inquest was told today.
Dr Alison Armour told the court: “I gave the cause of death as drowning. The watery fluid identified within the stomach and also in the lungs themselves are classical features as we see in cases of drowning.”
Nicola ‘was alive when she entered the water,’ pathologist tells inquest
Pathologist Dr Alison Armour told the court: “Ms Bulley was alive when she entered the water - because it is an active process to swallow and inhale water into lungs. My opinion as to the cause of death is that it was drowning.”
The coroner asked if there was any evidence of third-party involvement in Ms Bulley’s death, to which Dr Armour said, in her opinion, “there was not”. She also added there was no evidence Ms Bulley had been harmed by a third party.
Mother-of-two discovered ‘cake in mud'
Giving evidence, Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour said that Ms Bulley had been discovered “caked in mud”.
Bruises were discovered on her lower limbs, including to the front of her shin and right knee. No signs of asphyxiation or haemorrhage were discovered, and when asked if there was any sign of trauma to the neck, she replied: “None whatsoever”.
The toxicology results found “very low levels of alcohol” in Ms Bulley’s blood, said Dr Armour, which indicated alcohol levels “in my opinion, consistent with microbiological post-mortem activity”.
She explained this is the release of alcohol by bacteria produced in the body when a person dies.
Court shown images of area of loose mud leading down to water
The court is now being shown images of the river and the section of the river bank where Ms Bulley is suspected of falling into the river.
Underwater specialist Matthew Thackray has pointed to an area of loose mud leading down to the water, with the bench visible along the path.
The 45-year-old’s phone, which was still connected to a Microsoft Teams call, was discovered there just minutes after she is believed to have entered the River Wyre.
Nicola had not been drinking before her death, pathologist tells court
Nicola Bulley had not been drinking before her death, a Home Office pathologist said.
Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire, asked Dr Alison Armour, who was giving evidence at an inquest at County Hall in Preston: “At the time of her death she had no alcohol in her bloodstream?”
Dr Armour replied: “That’s my opinion.”
‘Almost freezing’ water was flowing ‘twice as fast’ on day Nicola died
The court is now being shown a video of the section of river where Nicola Bulley was last thought to be on its bank.
Mr Thackray is in the video standing in the middle of the river and saying the stream is currently pushing him downstream at “walking pace”.
The water on the 27 January was flowing at a faster pace, he said, “twice as fast”. The water was 4C on the day in question, he said, “very cold, almost freezing”.
“If you fell in accidentally, cold water shock would have probably taken effect - which causes muscles to seize and you can’t swim properly.”
Map shows exact location where Nicola’s body was found
The map below shows the exact location Nicola Bulley’s body was found in the River Wyre, and the location of the bench where her phone was found.
‘No evidence’ Nicola Bulley was harmed as cause of death revealed
The 45-year-old mortgage adviser disappeared on January 27 after dropping her two daughters, aged six and nine, at school and then taking her springer spaniel Willow for a walk along the river in St Michael’s on Wyre.
Her body was discovered in the water by a passer-by weeks later on February 19, just over a mile from where she was last seen.
Holly Evans reports live from the inquest:
A post-mortem examination found no signs that she had been assaulted or harmed
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