Nicola Bulley's partner final text on morning she went missing: 'Have you got lost?'

Nicola Bulley was found dead in February after she went missing along the River Wyre in Lancashire. (PA) (PA)

The partner of Nicola Bulley texted her, "Have you got lost?", on the morning she went missing, her inquest has heard.

The 45-year-old, mother-of-two disappeared on 27 January while walking her dog along the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, after carrying out the school run.

Her disappearance sparked a massive police search, before her body was found on 19 February by walkers.

On Tuesday, an inquest concluded that she drowned after accidentally falling into cold water.

Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire, concluding the inquest into her death at County Hall, Preston, recorded her death as accidental as she fell into the river and suffered “cold water shock”, ruling out suicide.

Read more: Live updates as inquest into death of Nicola Bulley concludes

On Tuesday, Paul Ansell, her partner of 12 years, broke down in tears while giving evidence at her inquest, saying she was an "incredible mum".

The inquest heard that on the morning she went missing, Mr Ansell sent her a text message saying: "Have you got lost?”

Ms Bulley's mobile phone was still connected to a work Teams call when it was found on a bench overlooking the water.

Screen grab taken from Pool Video of Paul Ansell, the partner of missing woman Nicola Bulley, speaking to the media in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire. Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser from Inskip, Lancashire, vanished on the morning of Friday January 27 while walking her dog after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school. Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the River Wyre in the Lancashire countryside. Picture date: Friday February 3, 2023.
Paul Ansell, the partner of Nicola Bulley, broke down in tears while giving evidence at her inquest. (Alamy) (POOL, PA Images)

Mr Ansell told the inquest he believes she went to put a harness on her dog shortly before falling into the river.

“She was still listening to that meeting, so I think she must have maybe put the phone on the bench and gone to put the harness back on Willow," he said.

Sophie Cartwright KC, the lawyer representing Ms Bulley’s family, told the inquest the evidence clearly pointed to her going into the River Wyre accidentally and her drowning quickly in the cold water.

“What happened on the river bank shortly after 9.18am was a tragic accident," she said.

County Hall in Preston, Lancashire, on the first day of the inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley. Picture date: Monday June 26, 2023.
The inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley is being held at Preston County Hall. (Alamy) (Danny Lawson, PA Images)

“There has been much rumour and suspicion and speculation around Nikki’s death but the family are very clearly of the view and submit to you that that rumour and speculation is allayed completely when looking at all the evidence.

“Nikki’s death would have occurred very shortly after she entered the water.”

The inquest heard about Ms Bulley's struggle with the menopause and an increase in her alcohol intake in the month before her death.

Mr Ansell said: “The blip over the Christmas period happened but in January she was back to herself, looking forward to the future and everything was on the up.”

“She had a good day the day before (she went missing), came home full of beans, excited with work, with the meetings she had and plans for the year.”

At one point during his evidence, Mr Ansell burst into tears and had to leave the room.

Ms Bulley's sister, Louise Cunningham, also cried as she spoke at the inquest on Tuesday.

“Nikki was my big sister... very much a planner," she said.

Read more: The full timeline of Nicola Bulley's disappearance

Flowers, and ribbons on a bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, after police announced that the body recovered from the River Wyre on Sunday, was that of Nicola Bulley, who disappeared on January 27. Picture date: Tuesday February 21, 2023.
Flowers left in tribute to Nicola Bulley along the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, after her body was found. (Alamy) (Dave Nelson, PA Images)

“She started her career again, a busy mum, as most people are, juggling a career and family life.

Ms Cunningham spoke about her sister's menopausal symptoms and an increase in her drinking in the months before she died.

“She had a blip over Christmas but she was back on the HRT medication in January and back to work and back to the normal Nikki.”

Ms Bulley's father, Ernest Bulley, cried as he paid tribute to his daughter.

“As a child she was lovely, a little ballerina, she always danced around in her tutu; she was great," he said.

“She was a great daughter, sister and mother, we couldn’t ask for any more from her.”

Nicola Bulley’s mother, Dorothy Bulley, also cried while giving evidence, and said “everything was normal” the day before her daughter died.

She had picked up Ms Bulley’s daughters from school on 26 January and looked after them that evening.

Watch: Nicola Bulley died from drowning, inquest told