Nicola Bulley: Potential witness sought by police in search for 45-year-old dog walker is traced

A potential witness who was sought by Lancashire Police following the disappearance of Nicola Bulley has now been traced.

Earlier today, police released a CCTV image of a dog walker wearing a red coat who they wanted to speak to and said they thought "the woman was in the area at the time" Ms Bulley went missing.

Lancashire Police later said: "We have now identified the woman and would like to thank everybody who shared our appeal and phoned in with information."

Ms Bulley was last seen on Friday at around 9.15am on a footpath by the River Wyre off Garstang Road in the village of St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

Her mobile phone was found on a bench nearby and was still connected to a conference call when it was spotted.

Ms Bulley's dog, a springer spaniel called Willow, was found loose between the river and the bench.

On Thursday, Ms Bulley's parents, Ernest, 73, and Dot, 72, said her disappearance was out of character, and she was in good health and enjoying her job.

It does not appear that she fell into the river.

Her father also told Sky News of the "pain" the "close-knit family" are feeling.

"This has just emptied our lives at the minute, we just feel so empty," he said.

"We appreciate everything everyone is doing to find her. The police have been brilliant, the local community has been outstanding. But at the end of the day we just want her back."

Her sister Louise Cunningham told Sky News: "If I'm being honest, it feels like I'm just stuck in a nightmare.

"We're going round and round in circles trying to piece together what could have possibly happened.

"It's like she's just vanished into thin air. We just want her home, we need her home, her children need her home. It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Ms Bulley's partner of 12 years, Paul Ansell, has said "the girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them".

A friend, Heather Gibbons, told Sky News: "You go from being hopeful to heartbroken, and just trying to be strong, because all we want is to find her for her girls and for Paul."

She added: "You want to hold on to the hope that no news is good news.

"But knowing Nikki, we just know that if she could be at home with her girls, we very firmly believe that's where she would be. Her family are everything."

Another friend, Emma White, described Ms Bulley as "the kindest, beautiful, lovely human being inside and out", adding that her partner, Paul, was "being strong as possible" for the couple's two children, aged nine and six.

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'Potentially key' witness sought in Nicola Bulley search

"We don't know why she's gone missing, where she is, we just want her home," she said.

Earlier this week, detectives investigating Ms Bulley's disappearance questioned a "potentially key" witness.

The 70-year-old is believed to have been in the area at the time Ms Bulley went missing.

A major search involving police dive teams, drones, firefighters and mountain rescue volunteers continues.

Friends and family have also been part of a widespread community search.

Officers have said they are "extremely concerned" for Ms Bulley's welfare, but stressed the investigation still remains a missing person inquiry and there is nothing, at the moment, to suggest third-party involvement in her disappearance.

She is originally from Chelmsford, Essex and has lived in Lancashire for 25 years.

Police said she speaks with an Essex accent.

She is described as white, 5ft 3ins tall, with light brown shoulder-length hair.

Ms Bulley was last seen wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellies. Her hair was tied into a ponytail.

As well as Inskip and St Michael's on Wyre, she also has links to Thornton Cleveleys.