Nicola Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell was ‘shocked’ by detail in river search, says head of dive squad

Nicola Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell was “shocked” about a detail in the river search, according to the head of the dive squad which searched for the missing mum. The head of the operation Peter Faulding took Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell around the site in St Michael’s on Wyre on Wednesday.

Peter said: “He’s very upset and he was in tears yesterday. He’s very emotional, obviously. He was shocked at how shallow the rocks were yesterday. He thought it was really deep there. If she had gone in she would have landed on the rocks.

“The family thanked us for being here.” The head of the dive squad added: “They said “You’ve given us confidence now” and his belief is that Nicola has not gone in that river.”

READ MORE Nicola Bulley police investigate mystery two-hour window between disappearance and first call

Ms Bulley’s family called in help from Mr Faulding, of Specialist Group International, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace of Ms Bulley was found. Mr Faulding said his searches confirmed Ms Bulley was not in the section of river searched by his team and police divers, but described himself as “baffled” after ending his fruitless search.

“The initial area where Nicola went in, where the bench is, the police thoroughly searched that the same day, and did it again days later,” Mr Faulding told BBC radio earlier this week. “From all my experience, I would expect a body when it goes down and drowns, to go straight down to the bottom, and remain there until the body starts to decompose and then it will start moving.”

He added that there is not enough of a current in the River Wyre, where police believe Ms Bulley may have fallen, for her to have been moved downstream on the day she went missing. Later, Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said Mr Faulding, leader of underwater search experts SGI, is not included in “all the investigation detail” about missing Nicola.

Supt Riley said: “Our search has not found Nicola in the river and then a re-search in parts by SGI has found the same. That does not mean… that Nicola has not been in the river. In the light of other inquiries being discounted from the investigation so far… clearly our main belief is that Nicola did fall into the river.

“Clearly Mr Faulding isn’t included within all the investigation detail any more than the members of the public are that I’m briefing through these sorts of press conferences.” Supt Riley also said she wanted to end her address by “holding Nicola’s family in our thoughts”, calling it an “agonising time” for them.

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