UPDATE: Local resident reports two men acting suspiciously prior to Nicola Bulley disappearance

VERDICT on Nicola Bulley police investigation.

Probe into Lancashire police. Credit: Twitter Lancashire Police

07:30 (February 13) – A local resident has alleged that two men were seen acting suspiciously near where Nicola Bulley disappeared.

The unnamed witness claims that he told the police what he had seen less than 24 hours prior to her disappearance, adding his frustration that it took them nine days to contact him for a statement.

Acknowledging that they may have been fishermen he told The Sun: ‘I first saw them at around 7.45 am on my way to work on the Thursday, the day before Nicola Bulley vanished. I drive that way every day, so know the road well.

‘I saw two men wearing dark clothing and hoods or hats and carrying fishing rods.’

Whilst that on its own may not seem suspicious he continued saying that he saw at least one of the two men on the day of her disappearance and around the same time. Again he said the individual appeared to be trying to hide their identity.

The witness responded to the police request for information but he said. “It’s frustrating, it would have been much better if I had been spoken to straight away as it was fresher in my mind.”

In the latest update from the police they say they are once again searching properties in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. This will be the fourth search in the area after no sign of Bulley was found in the river or in Morecambe Bay.

08:30 (February 11) – The partner of the missing dog walker, Paul Ansell has told Channel 5 that he believes someone locally is responsible for Nicola Bulleys´ disappearance.

“People don’t just vanish into thin air. It’s absolutely impossible. So something has happened.

“Whatever has happened, in my eyes, has to be somebody who knows the local area.

“You would only know that area, by local, it’s a local area.”

Saying that he was even more convinced with no evidence of her in or near the river that someone else was involved, adding: The fact that nothing’s been seen or heard, I just truly believe that it’s something in the village.”

Ansell said that Bulley had walked the same path every day since he met her 12 years ago and so she knew the area and those who regularly walked there. He finished by appealing to everyone in the village to search their properties and to think about who they might´ve seen and to talk to the police – someone he said, knows something that could be helpful.

07:15 (February 10) – Eyewitnesses have told the police of a shabby and faded-looking red van that was seen parked close to where Nicola Bulley disappeared.

The van is said to have been seen parked in a lane a few hundred metres from the school where Bulley dropped her children earlier that fateful morning.

Those that saw the van describe it as a high-sided Renault or Transit, in which a man thought to be in his 50s was sitting. One witness told the Sun: “It was a shabby-looking van, an older model, the kind you can live or work in.

“It was on a quiet lane near a barn, with a couple of houses dotted around.

“Obviously, I don’t know whether this van is related to Nicola’s disappearance. All I know is that something grabbed my attention. I felt compelled to tell the police about it.

“Even though it was down the road, as the crow flies it’s quite close to where Nicola was last seen.”

With few leads to go on it is understood that the police are looking into the red van, as they continue their search down river and in Morecambe Bay.

22:10 (February 9) – The police sea search has moved downriver and into Morecambe Bay as detectives look to rule out the possibility that Nicola Bulley was washed downstream.

A police spokesperson said that although there was no evidence that Bulley had been washed into the bay, there was a need to rule out all possibilities as they continue their search.

Photos taken by the dog walker show her spaniel swimming in the river moments before she disappeared, a rive that does not appear to be flowing strongly or fast. That critics say contradicts the police theory that she may have accidently fallen into the river and drowned given the clothing she was wearing.

The photos suggest this hypothesis to be highly unlikely.

05:00 (February 9) – Police admit that missing dog walker and mother of two Nicola Bulley could have left the path without being captured on CCTV.

Responding to a friend´s request that they search abandoned homes nearby, the police confirm that they have but that it’s possible that she could have left without being seen.

Tilly Ann, posted on Facebook: “The abandoned house and outbuildings etc have not yet been searched as it is not currently a crime investigation!!!!!! (This should have been done straight away!).”

A police statement on Monday said: “Our enquiries so far have included searches of the river and riverbank which have extended all the way to the sea using specialist search teams, sonar, search dogs, drone and helicopter, house to house and CCTV. 

“We have also spoken to numerous witnesses, analysed Nicola’s mobile phone and fitbit and searched the derelict house on the other side of the river as well as any empty caravans in the vicinity.”

The police say they would like anyone who might have dashcam footage on the day in question to contact them as it’s possible she may have been seen, with more than 700 cars having passed around the time she disappeared.

20:01 (February 8) -Diving expert Peter Faulding pulls his team from the search for missing dog walker Nicola Bulley saying that there is no sign of her in that stretch of the river.

Saying that he and his team had conducted three very thorough searches of the area it is clear that she is not there. He told the Metro: “We’ve done very thorough searches all the way down to the weir. Police divers have dived it three times, extremely thoroughly.

“That area is completely negative – there is no sign of Nicola in that area. The main focus will be the police investigation down the river, which leads out to the estuary.

“If Nicola was in that river I would have found her – I guarantee you that – and she’s not in that section of the river.”

He said he had called the family and told them the upsetting news, this after partner Paul Ansell visited the area today. He said: “Paul wanted to go and see where the original entry point was again, and the water’s a bit lower than it was originally when Nicola went missing.

“And he’s, he’s clear that, well all the family are clearly distraught like anyone will be. And it’s just, it’s not a nice place to be.

“And I’m just trying to explain what work we’re doing. And give him some confidence that Nicola is not in that river over there.

“Normally we find them, this is an unusual situation. And hopefully, Nicola will appear somewhere or pop up somewhere, I don’t know.

“I’m totally baffled by this one, to be honest,’ he said, adding that drowning victims tend to sink to the bottom and, if there’s a current, drift only a few metres away.”

Faulding and his SGI team have been using sophisticated sonar equipment to trawl the river for the last three days, but have found no evidence to suggest she is anywhere near where police believe she may have fallen in the water.

17:09 (February 7) – Lancashire Police have confirmed that the disappearance of Nicola Bulley is still being treated as a missing persons case.

During a press conference on February 7, Superintendent Sally Riley said that there are ‘around 500 lines of inquiry’ related to the disappearance of Nicola Bulley but said there was nothing ‘of note’ yet.

She also revealed that “the inquiry team remains fully open-minded to any information that may indicate where Nicola is or what happened to her.”

She said that although people may want to speculate about the whereabouts of Nicola, the police force consider her disappearance as a missing persons case and nothing else at this time.

She did however insist that Nicola had fallen into the water at some point although no evidence had been found at this time.

07:14 (February 7) – Locals are reporting a large police and emergency vehicle presence at a bridge some five miles downriver from where Nicola Bulley went missing.

Residents report seeing drones scouring the area along with emergency workers on and around the bridge after they were called to the area.

But a Lancashire Police spokesperson told The Sun: “The search of the sand and surrounding area near to Shard Bridge by Lancashire Police and the Coastguard proved negative.”

The reports come as the dive crew leader says that he believes the mobile phone left on a bench on the river bank was a decoy, left there to put investigators off her trail.

Peter of Faulding of the search group SGI said they had found nothing despite using the most sophisticated underwater sonar coupled with a helicopter.

17:03 (February 6) – The head of the dive team from Specialist Group International (SGI) who are currently trawling the river for any signs of missing dog-walker Nicola Bulley has said there is “something not right” about the police river theory.

Peter Faulding told the Mirror he is not convinced about the police theory that she fell into the river. He said: “Normally people would scream out and I don’t know if there was other people in the area but you’d scream out, you’d flap around and the dog would normally maybe stay with the owner.

“There’s something, in my opinion, not quite right here.”

SGI, who are using sonar in the river and a helicopter in the air, are undertaking the search free of charge in an effort to find the missing woman.

Faulding added: “If Nicola is here, I’m happy we will find her, if she’s in the river.

“If we can’t find her in the next three or four days in this river, if she’s not here, then I’m confident that she’s not in this stretch of river. I’d be very confident of that.

“We are going to be working our hardest, we’ll probably be working under darkness tonight for a while and that’s my intention to help the family.”

Speaking to ITV´s Good Morning Britain, friend Emma White said: “We hope they uncover nothing, like the police have done for the last 10 days, and we hope Nicola is not in that river.”

The family have also disputed the police line of enquiry saying there is no evidence that she fell in the river. They have also taken to the air to rubbish claims that her husband was involved in her disappearance.

With few leads to go on the police have asked anyone who may know anything to contact them on 101, quoting log 473 of January 27, or to ring 999 for immediate sightings.

10:34 (February 4) – Louise Cunningham, the sister of the missing dog walker Nicola Bulley, has taken to social media to ask people to keep an open mind about her disappearance.

In a Facebook post, she wrote that the police had not exhausted all other lines of inquiry and had still to follow up on more leads and CCTV images.

She added that the theory her sister fell into the river and drowned is just that, a theory. She continued by saying there is no evidence that she fell into the river.

Her post said: ‘Everyone needs to keep an open mind as not all CCTV and leads have been investigated fully, the police confirmed the case is far from over.’

08:37 (February 4) – Detectives have speculated that dog walker Nicola Bulley may have fallen into the river trying to retrieve her dog´s ball.

The theory comes as a search of the area yields no sight of the missing woman, however, social media posts show her throwing the ball for her spaniel Willow moments before she disappeared.

Bulley was last seen wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting jeans and green wellies, heavy winter clothing that when wet could have weighed her down.

 Superintendent Sally Riley said they do not expect t foul play and will continue their search for Bulley in the 15-foot (3-metre) deep waters of the river.

She added: “I’m not aware of a dog ball being retrieved but it’s possible that a ball could have rolled down the steep bank close to the edge of the water and Ms Bulley was bending down to pick it up.

“What she was wearing could also be a factor.

“I don’t wish to speculate but the facts are that she was wearing a quilted, ankle-length gilet, which is a big coat, and underneath that there was another coat and then under that coat more clothing.

“She was also wearing ankle-length wellingtons. One would assume they fill with water when someone enters a river so all of that clothing is heavy, particularly on someone who is of slight build and only 5 foot three.”

The search will continue today with divers scouring the river bed for signs of the missing woman.

16:30 (February 3) – Dog walker Nicola Bulley who seemingly disappeared into thin air days ago after going missing is now thought to have fallen into a local river according to an update from police.

According to the police, an extensive search of the area along the River Wyre had not resulted in Bulley being found, which they now believe may be because she fell into the river.

A search of the river started on Friday, February 3 a week after Bulley disappeared.


Friends have retraced the route taken by Bulley but that has not yielded results either. Police searches had found her springer spaniel running loose, as well as her mobile found which has been left on a bench.

The 45-year-old´s partner had said earlier that he will “never lose hope”.

Paul Ansell told Sky News that he kept playing “every scenario” in his head “around and around” but that his focus had to be supporting their two young daughters.

He added: “I don’t know how I am coping. I don’t want to think about that. I am just focused on the girls.”

The missing dog walker Nicola Bulley, a mortgage adviser, dropped her six and nine-year-old daughters at school, shortly before taking the dog for a walk. She has never been seen again despite an extensive police search that has involved friends and neighbours.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.