Diving expert breaks silence after body found in Nicola Bulley search

Peter Faulding led a private search of the river for the missing mother-of-two

Lucy Skoulding
Monday 20 February 2023 12:20 GMT
Nicola Bulley: Diver Peter Faulding says he is the ‘fall guy’ after body found in river
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A diving expert who scoured the river for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has spoken for the first time since a body was found near where she went missing.

Peter Faulding, head of Specialist Group International, led a team of experts and divers to assist Lancashire Police in searching the river using specialist sonar equipment.

He previously said he did not believe Ms Bulley was in the water, despite police doubling down this week on the theory she fell in the River Wyre.

A body has now been found by divers, and although it has not yet been identified, Ms Bulley’s family have been informed of the discovery.

Responding to the news on Sunday evening, Mr Faulding said: “Our thoughts are with Nicola’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Mr Faulding, who was called in by Ms Bulley’s family to help find her, found no trace of her during a three-day search.

He on Sunday said he had only cleared the area around the bench where her phone was found, and that the tidal section beyond the weir was “an open book”.

“All I can say is when we searched she was not on the bottom of that river,” he told MailOnline.

“We weren’t searching the reeds, our job was to search the water.”

Nicola Bulley vanished while walking her dog
Nicola Bulley vanished while walking her dog (PA Media)

It comes after Mr Faulding said his team was not passed the “crucial information” revealed by police about Ms Bulley’s private life earlier this week.

Lancashire Police issued a statement disclosing the mother-of-two’s alcohol issues, brought on by ongoing struggles with menopause.

The widely-criticised statement came hours after the force revealed Ms Bulley was deemed to be high-risk when she went missing, due to “specific vulnerabilities”.

(Google Maps/The Independent)

Mr Faulding wrote online in response: “I can confirm that my usually trusted team and I were not passed this crucial information during our search, which would have changed search strategy.”

Appearing on TalkTV, he added: “This is an awful case and I just wish it had been handled a lot better in the first place by giving certain information that would have helped us target that search in specific areas.”

Peter Faulding led a team of private divers and experts
Peter Faulding led a team of private divers and experts (TalkTV)

The body was found around a mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on 27 January.

A police spokesman said officers were called to reports of a body in the river close to Rawcliffe Road at around 11.35am on Sunday.

“An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body,” a statement said.

It continued: “No formal identification has yet been carried out, so we are unable to say whether this is Nicola Bulley at this time.

A police diving team at the River Wyre near St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire
A police diving team at the River Wyre near St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire (PA Wire)

“Procedures to identify the body are ongoing. We are currently treating the death as unexplained.

“Nicola’s family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected.”

The discovery came after a tip-off from two walkers, according to the Mirror.

A police diving team could be seen conducting the search, while a police drone and helicopter flew above.

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