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Nicola Bulley: Police confirm that body found in River Wyre is missing dog walker

Nicola Bulley: Police confirm that body found in River Wyre is missing dog walker

A body found in the River Wyre has been identified as missing mother Nicola Bulley, police have confirmed.

Her body was found on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire, around a mile from where the 45-year-old mortgage adviser was last seen.

The mother-of-two had gone missing while walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre more than three weeks ago, sparking a major search.

Police previously said they believed the 45-year-old had gone into the river and that her disappearance on January 27 was not suspicious.

On Sunday, Lancashire Police said they “sadly recovered a body” from the water. It is understood that a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body and called police.

Police confirmed at a press conference on Monday the body has been formally identified as Ms Bulley.

In a statement read to the press by police, Ms Bulley’s family said their “worst fears” have been confirmed, adding they “will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments”.

“We will never forget Nikki,” said the family. “How could we? She was the centre of our world. She was the one who made our lives so special, and nothing will cast a shadow over that.

Lancashire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson (right) speaking at a press conference on Monday evening (Getty Images)
Lancashire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson (right) speaking at a press conference on Monday evening (Getty Images)

“Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.”

The family added their heartfelt thanks to friends and the local community, for their “comforting and heartwarming” support in recent weeks.

“Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones,” they added. “Keep that hope alive.

“Finally, Nikki - you are no longer a missing person. You have been found. We can let you rest now. We love you - always have, and always will. We will take it from here.”

Lancashire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson said as Monday’s press conference began: “Sadly we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre.

“Nicola’s family have been informed and are of course devastated. Our thoughts are with them at this time, as well as all her loved ones and the wider community.

“Today’s development is not the outcome any of us would have wanted, but we hope that at least it can begin to provide some answers for Nicola’s loved ones.

“They remain in foremost in our thoughts. The case is now being handled by His Majesty’s coroner.”

Ms Bulley was last seen walking her springer spaniel Willow after dropping off her two daughters, aged six and nine, at school.

Nicola Bulley (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Nicola Bulley (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

The mortgage adviser’s partner had spoken of his family’s “agony” after the body was found in the river on Sunday.

The body was found on a stretch of the river just past a slight bend, a mile or so outside the village, close to where a tree had fallen on its side half in and half outside the water, with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

Police had earlier erected a tent and cordoned off the lane while police divers were called in. The section of river is understood to have been previously searched as part of the investigation to find her.

Lancashire Police has faced criticism of its handling of the investigation into Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

Daffodils and yellow ribbons are pictured on the bench that missing person Nicola 'Nikki' Bulley's phone was found on in January when she was last seen. (AFP via Getty Images)
Daffodils and yellow ribbons are pictured on the bench that missing person Nicola 'Nikki' Bulley's phone was found on in January when she was last seen. (AFP via Getty Images)

Following a press conference in which they revealed Ms Bulley was classed as a high risk missing person, the force released a statement saying that she had “some significant issues with alcohol” and “ongoing struggles with the menopause”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he was “concerned” that private information about Ms Bulley had been made public, while Home Secretary Suella Braverman has demanded an explanation.

Lancashire Police has referred itself to the police watchdog over contact they had with Ms Bulley before she went missing.

Ms Bulley’s disappearance sparked huge speculation as to what had happened to Ms Bulley - which intensified the longer the search went on - and drew criticism from the police.

Lancashire Police said social media sleuths - including TikTokers who descended on the scene near Ms Bulley’s disappearance - had “distracted” and hindered their investigation by “playing private detectives”.

Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith said investigating officers were “inundated with false information, accusations and rumours” relating to the case.