UK police identify body found in river as Nicola Bulley

FILE PHOTO: Police search River Wyre for Nicola Bulley

LONDON (Reuters) - British police on Monday identified a body found in the River Wyre in northern England as Nicola Bulley, a mother of two who went missing last month sparking a large search that captured media and public attention.

"Sadly we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre," Lancashire Police Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson told a news conference.

Bulley, 45, was last seen walking her dog near the river in Lancashire on Jan. 27. Her mobile phone, still connected to a work call, was found on a nearby bench.

Lancashire Police said an underwater search team and specialist officers had recovered a body from the water on Sunday.

While police had said throughout there was no evidence of anything untoward or any third party involvement, her case became widely reported in Britain and debated on social media as the general public discussed her possible whereabouts.

"We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us. We will never forget Nikki. How could we? She was the centre of our world," Bulley's family said in a statement read to reporters by police.

The family statement went on to heavily criticise media intrusion during the search.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Farouq Suleiman; Writing by William James; Editing by Jan Harvey)