A diving expert searching for missing Lancashire mum Nicola Bulley claims that the mobile phone found on a bench near the river could have been left as a “decoy”.
Peter Faulding, of Specialist Group International (SGI), shared his “gut instinct” on BBC Breakfast and said that if the mum-of-two is not found today (February 7) during further searches of the River Wyre then it may point to “third-party involvement”. The 45-year-old mysteriously disappeared on Friday, January 27, in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her children off at school.
An underwater search is continuing today following a fresh appeal by her partner, who said her two daughters “desperately” miss her and “need her back”. An extensive search operation was launched but so far no trace of the mortgage advisor has been found in the River Wyre where police fear she fell.
READ MORE: Nicola Bulley timeline of events since mysterious disappearance of mum 11 days ago
While discussing their plans for continued searches on Tuesday, Mr Faulding explained that the search team are set to return to the original area Nicola is believed to have gone missing on the River Wyre on January 27. He explained they will use sonar technology to thoroughly search the river bed.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “The initial searches yesterday were downstream in the tidal section of the river, not the key area where Nicola originally went missing. Today we are focussing on the area upstream which is non-tidal and going about a mile upstream.
“This includes the area where Nicola’s phone was found on the bench. That was thoroughly searched on the day by police divers.
“These are very professional divers and they didn’t find anything and that’s the odd thing about this. That’s what I can’t get my head around. It’s very strange.
He added: “We are going to go back over the area just in case. We don’t know for certain that Nicola is in the river but if she went further enough she could drift down by now.
“We are going to go back over the original area that was searched twice by the police. Sonar will image the river bed and see everything that’s laying down there, sticks, stones, everything, so if Nicola is there we will find her.”
Presenter Sally Nugent asked Mr Faulding what his “gut instinct” was. He replied: “If Nicola is not in that stretch of the river today, my view is that there could be a third party involvement. The phone could be a decoy placed by the river.
“I’ve had this before where a stiletto shoe was found by the river but she was eventually found in a haystack miles away. So it could have been placed as a decoy. There’s not enough CCTV to coverage particular areas here. The police are working hard in the background looking at everything.
“It’s so unusual. There’s no clear information to go on at the moment.”
He continued: “That (phone) could be a decoy. We don’t know. That river has already been searched.
“Normally when we deal with a drowning victim they are where they go down. The police divers acted immediately and had an underwater search team in at the area with the bench and searched it throughly.
“I would’ve expected Nicola to be in the water right in front of the bench. She would have moved two or three feet. This is so strange. In my 20-odd years of experience, and I’ve worked on hundreds of cases. I’ve never seen something so unusual.”
Peter also appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning to discuss today’s plans as the search for missing Nicola Bulley continues. He was asked by Ben Shephard: “So what will your equipment allow you to see potentially that they could have missed?”
Peter replied: “Well the police divers wouldn’t have missed anything there. What we’re going to do, we’re going to go back over that area but if Nicola went in somewhere else upstream, because the only information we’ve got at the moment is a mobile phone, so if she did go in somewhere else, potentially by now she could have drifted down over the time because it is 10 days.”
“So I think we are going to go back over the area anyway to completely rule out anything. I mean underwater search, I’m a forensic diver as well, it’s a particularly difficult task. But generally, thinks are not missed.
Explaining the sonar equipment, he added: “It’s like a moving map of Google maps, but of the seabed for me. And I can literally see every stick and stone laying on the bottom, right the way across the river so if anything is there, we will find it.”
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