Any trace of Nicola Bulley will now be gone from disappearance site, says ex-cop

Riverside where missing dog walker last seen ‘not very forensically friendly’ says retired Lancashire officer

Liam James
Sunday 12 February 2023 17:51 GMT
Everything we know about Nicola Bulley's disappearance so far

Any trace of Nicola Bulley on the stretch of river where she was last seen will now be gone, a former Lancashire police officer has said.

Riverbanks and fields like the one in St Michael’s on Wyre where the missing mother-of-two walked her dog are “not very forensically friendly”, the retired officer told The Telegraph.

In anonymous remarks, he explained that there would be fingerprints and bootprints from lots of people in the area, especially now that two weeks have passed since she vanished on 27 January.

Ms Bulley’s footprints would be near impossible to track without the exact shoes she was wearing at the time of her disappearance, he said.

Relatives of Ms Bulley dispute the police theory that she fell into the river. Her partner Paul Ansell said he was“100 per cent convinced” there was another explanation and told Channel 5 he wanted to keep “all options open” in the search.

Lancashire Constabulary said it was open to receiving any credible information about what happened, and continues to treat the disappearance as a missing person’s case.

It remains the force’s belief that Ms Bulley fell into the river.

On Thursday, the focus of their search switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with patrol and rescue boats spotted in the area.

Map showing Nicola Bulley’s movement before going missing
Map showing Nicola Bulley’s movement before going missing (Datawrapper/The Independent)

Former detective Mark Williams-Thomas said officers should increase their searches away from the river and avoid becoming “fixated” on one hypothesis.

“What they now need to do, is what I would defer to, is feet on the ground,” he told Channel 5. “They now need to start looking at the wider area, not just focused in relation to the river.

“We know their hypothesis is the river. But actually, there are three aspects here, which are either river, she walks off, or someone takes her.”

“Those are your three hypotheses. Not just the water. They need to be very broad. The senior command should not be fixated by one element.”

Police have now started gathering evidence from the day before Ms Bulley disappeared and have requested CCTV from a garage near where she was last seen.

A witness reportedly told police he saw two men acting suspiciously near Ms Bulley’s dog walking route on the day before her disappearance.

Officers have said they have 500 lines of inquiry open in the case and were seeking to contact more than 700 drivers known to have been in the area around the time Ms Bulley was last seen.

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