Police say ‘working hypothesis’ is that missing Nicola Bulley fell into river

Police say ‘working hypothesis’ is that missing Nicola Bulley fell into river

Police investigating the disappearance of mother-of-two Nicola Bulley say their “main working hypothesis” is that she fell into the River Wyre while out walking her dog.

Superintendent Sally Riley of Lancashire Police said inquiries so far had left a 10-minute window in which they cannot account for Ms Bulley’s movements last Friday.

They believe she did not leave the riverside area.

Ms Riley said: “We remain open to any inquiries that might lead us to question that, but at this time we understand that she was by the river.

“Our main working hypothesis, therefore, is that Nicola has sadly fallen into the river, that there is no third-party or criminal involvement and that this is not suspicious, but a tragic case of a missing person.

“This is particularly important because speculation otherwise can be really distressing for the family and for Nicola’s children.”

Ms Bulley, 45, a mortgage adviser from Inskip, Lancashire, vanished while walking her dog in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school last Friday.

Nicola Bulley missing
The bench where Nicola Bulley’s phone was found (Danny Lawson/PA)

The last confirmed sighting of her was at 9.10am and she had logged on to a work Teams call, which ended at 9.30am with her still logged on.

Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the river at around 9.35am, while Willow was found running between the gate to the field and the bench.

Police say inquiries suggest her phone was on the bench at 9.20am.

Ms Riley said: “I don’t wish to speculate, in that we don’t know, but it is possible as the dog was loose and off the lead that there may have been an issue with the dog that led her to the water’s edge, she puts her phone down to go and deal with the dog momentarily, and Nicola may have fallen in.

“We assume the dog didn’t get into the river, but we don’t know why Nicola may have if she did.”

Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley
Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley (Danny Lawson/PA)

She added that “the dog was dry” and Ms Bulley can swim.

She said: “It’s now a week since Nicola went missing and her disappearance has understandably caused a huge amount of concern and upset in the local community, as well as being an absolutely awful time for her family.

“As a mum I can’t begin to imagine the suffering they are going through. We are supporting them as best we can and keeping them updated on our efforts to try and find Nicola.”

She urged the public to look out along the river for the items of clothing that Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, including an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.

“It’s really important that the public pay heed to those very specific clothing descriptions please, because factual sightings of those items would be very useful to us,” she added.