What happened to Nicola Bulley? | The Sun

NICOLA Bulley's disappearance rocked the nation after she mysteriously vanished in January 2023.

The 45-year-old was last seen walking her dog along a towpath in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, at around 9.15am on January 27, 2023.

Her disappearance sparked a mystery after her mobile was found on a bench still connected to a work conference call.

Nicola's pet springer spaniel Willow was also found – but there was no trace still of the mum-of-two.

On Sunday February 20, police searching for Nicola confirmed a body had been found less than a mile from where she was last seen.

The mum-of-two had to be identified through her dental records after the sad discovery was made.

Read More on Nicola Bulley


Three clues that sparked dive expert to brand missing mum case ‘odd’


Cops looking for missing Nicola focus search on specific river path

An inquest into her death started on June 26, 2023 – almost five months to the day since Nicola vanished.

It revealed she died from drowning and was alive when she entered the water.

Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour said the internal examination found “classic signs” of asphyxia, which happens when the body is deprived of oxygen, but there was no sign of trauma to Nicola's neck.

Dr Armour confirmed Nicola had not been drinking before her death.

Most read in The Sun


Brad Pitt’s son calls star a ‘world class a**hole’ in explosive Insta post


I’ve survived 5 Putin assassination attempts… it’s like Covid, says Zelensky

Dear Deidre

My sexual fantasy is extreme, I’m determined to ask my wife to fulfill my dream


I met UK’s most evil killers… many were bloated zombies but Brady was feared

At the time her body was found, the force said: "We recognise the huge impact that Nicola’s disappearance has had on her family and friends, but also on the people of St Michael’s.

"We would like to thank all of those who have helped during what has been a hugely complex and highly emotional investigation.

"Today’s development is not the outcome any of us would have wanted, but we hope that it can at least start to provide some answers for Nicola’s loved ones, who remain foremost in our thoughts."

While Nicola was missing, several leads emerged, including a "tatty red van" parked close to where she went missing, two suspicious-looking hooded men in the area and a "stained" glove found in a nearby field.


Nicola was deemed a "high-risk" missing person when she vanished due to a "number of specific vulnerabilities".

This means there was a "real and immediate danger" to Nicola's safety or that of the public.

DS Smith said: "That is normal for a missing person with the information we were in possession of."

She confirmed this decision was made after speaking to Nicola's boyfriend Paul but initially refused to go into more detail.

DS Smith described the matter as "personal and private", adding that she wanted to respect the family, who are going through "unimaginable pain and distress".

But the force later confirmed she had in the past struggled with alcohol consumption due to the menopause.

A 143-page report into Lancashire Police's handling of the case has now been released.

The review, led by the College of Policing, criticised the force for "insufficient focus" and errors of judgement.

In its 17 recommendations, the report found the disclosure of personal details about Nicola's life was "avoidable and unnecessary".

Generally, police consider a person's age, whether they need medication and if they have financial, employment or relationship problems when assessing the level of risk.

They will also look at whether the disappearance is out of character, if there is a suspicion of murder and if they are on the Child Protection Register.

In May 2023 the cops were cleared by the IOPC for releasing private information – including the mum's medical information.


Police also read out a heartbreaking statement from Nicola's family, saying their "worst fears had been confirmed today".

They said: "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, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.

"Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most."

They added: "Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones. Keep that hope alive.

"Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.

"We love you, always have and always will, we'll take it from here."

Just hours prior police had said they needed more time to identify the body.

An inquest in the summer ruled Nicola's death was an accident after she fell in the water and suffered "cold water shock".


Officers closed off an area less than a mile from where Nicola was last seen after a tip-off from two dog walkers.

Divers were seen entering the water after two police cars raced to the scene on that fateful morning.

The search area spanned along Rawcliffe Road as well as nearby footpaths.

A police helicopter circled above as a man and woman were seen pointing to the spot where a new search was launched.

The horrified witness' first words to the cops were revealed.

The man, who appeared pale, could be seen pointing to the area along the bank.

He can then be heard saying: “It was a body. It is down there.

"It was a body of a woman. There is definitely a body down there.”

The role of a self-styled underwater search expert was also slammed in a report in November 2023.

Peter Faulding was drafted in to help the hunt for Nicola after claiming police had "low-tech" diving equipment that was unlikely to be able to find a body.

Although police were wary of using Mr Faulding, they feared a negative response so gave permission for him to carry out a search.

As a result, The Sun and other publications quoted him as he was presented as a legitimate expert helping the search.

But Mr Faulding informed Nicola's family he had identified a "body deposition site", which police later said caused unwarranted distress and false alarm.

The report said officers felt some of his behaviour and activities "caused challenges to the investigation".

Source: Read Full Article