Nicola Bulley: Witness comes forward as search reaches 10th day
Friends of Nicola Bulley say “vile theories” shared online about the mother of two’s disappearance are “incredibly hurtful” to her family. The police have also taken the extraordinary step of condemning cruel speculation about witnesses and family members who have come forward to help the inquiry.
Lancashire Police said: “The speculation and abuse on social media aimed at some people who are merely assisting our inquiry is totally unacceptable.”
It came as the last known picture of Nicola was revealed. It shows the mortgage adviser, 45, loading her car outside her home in Inskip, Lancashire, on January 27, the day she went missing, before driving her two children the four miles to school in St Michael’s on Wyre and then going for a walk by the River Wyre.
Nicola disappeared after 9.10am during a work conference call, with her phone left on a bench near her springer spaniel Willow.
A major police operation got under way soon after to find the missing woman.
Yesterday, private specialists armed with the “world’s best” sonar equipment joined the search, with their apparatus able to scan the river “in a day”.
Nicola’s friend Tilly Ann wrote that “inappropriate comments” online had been causing “hurt and distress” and urged everyone to show the family “as much positivity as possible please”.
Nicola Bulley, 45, is missing
Another pal Heather Gibbons said social media trolls cruelly accusing family or friends of being involved in the mother’s disappearance are being “incredibly hurtful” with their “vile theories”.
Ms Gibbons added that they may not realize that Nicola’s family can read their speculation, stressing that her two daughters, aged six and nine, will be able to read it when they are older.
Ms Gibbons said: “The speculation is massive. I mean, it’s human nature. Everyone’s going to have their thoughts, their theories, everyone will be speculating.
“But to see some of the vile speculation online – some of the theories that are incredibly hurtful. I don’t think people are realizing that the family is sitting at home and is able to access and see all of that.
“As [Nicola’s daughters] get older, they will be able to look back and they will be able to see everything that was said.”
Last Friday, senior officer Supt Sally Riley said the “main working hypothesis” is that Nicola somehow fell into the icy River Wyre before 9.35am, claiming they could find no evidence she ever left the river area
Nicola Bulley last appearance on CCTV
Supt Riley said 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 may have fallen in”.
But Nicola’s partner of 12 years Paul Ansell, her sister Louise Cunningham and close friends have all stressed there is no evidence of her sliding into the river – and urged the police and the public to keep looking.
Louise said: “Off the back of the latest police media update, please can I add there is no evidence whatsoever that she has gone into the river, it’s just a theory.
“Everyone needs to keep an open mind as not all CCTV and leads have been fully investigated. The police confirmed the case is far from over.”
Nicola Bulley’s sister Louise, and parents Ernest and Dot
Engineer Paul agreed, writing to his missing partner on Facebook: “The agony continues but the hope is stronger than ever of finding you. There is no evidence yet to suggest any scenario over another – all options must be kept wide open.
“Please if anyone still has dash cam footage from the area and hasn’t yet checked or handed it to the police, please do.
“We need her home. We will not entertain any other outcome. We need a happy ending to this nightmare. Please keep hope and positive vibes high and let’s find Nikki. My beautiful partner and our girls’ amazing mummy.”
Nicola’s two daughters have already been asking, “Where is she and is she coming home?” another friend has revealed.
Search teams are now being helped by specialists from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, with sniffer dogs, drones and helicopters all being used.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the underwater search team Specialist Group International is set to be deployed.
Lancashire Police had earlier “declined” a free offer of help from the team, wanted by Nicola’s family. Founder Peter Faulding said: “We have the best sonar equipment in the world. That river, we can literally scan within a day, a day and a half. Our kit is the best you can buy.
“What I’m doing is offering our services free of charge to try and eliminate this river so the police can get on with other inquiries and find out where Nicola is.” Meanwhile, a short video shared by Nicola’s friends shows one of her daughters pointing out a search team that is looking for her mother.
While the six-second clip does not show the child, she can be faintly heard saying: “It’s a helicopter, they’re looking for mummy.”