Nicola Bulley: Family and friends refuse to accept ‘theories for conclusions’ as search continues

A friend of Nicola Bulley said loved ones “cannot take a theory as a conclusion” as the search for the Lancashire mother-of-two enters its third week.

Police have favoured a theory that Ms Bulley fell into the River Wyre while walking her dog Willow on January 27, and that her body has not been found because it has been swept towards Morecambe Bay.

The force continued to search the river towards the sea at Morecambe Bay on Saturday. Their search has been aided by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, with sniffer dogs, drones, and police helicopters deployed.

But Heather Gibbons told Times Radio that the police theory is simply “a theory because there is nothing, there is no concrete evidence to it at all”.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: we cannot take a theory as a conclusion for Nikki. We can’t accept that for Nikki or for the family,” she said.

Ms Gibbons said her head has been spinning since her friend disappeared from the village of St Michael’s on Wyre 16 days ago.

“You look at the facts: Nikki’s a strong swimmer. She does that walk frequently. She doesn’t generally go near the river on that walk,” she told Times Radio.

Ms Gibbons said the police “haven’t got the blinkers on” and “made it clear that all routes are still open”.

She described Ms Bulley, 45, as “one of kindest people you could ever wish to meet” who had brought bags of toys and clothes for a Ukrainian family staying with Ms Gibbons.

Friends and family are desperate for more answers. They made a fresh appeal to drivers on Friday for any dash cam footage of the area the day the mortgage adviser went missing.

Around 30 stood on the roadside holding placards bearing her picture.

Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, said on Friday night that he is 100 per cent” convinced that she did not fall into the river.

“People don’t just vanish into thin air, it’s absolutely impossible. So something has happened,” he told Channel 5’s Dan Walker.

“My plea now is, personally, I want every house, every garage, every outbuilding, the land scrutinised. I want it all searched. I want it all scrutinised, every piece of it.”

He and Ms Bulley have two daughters, aged nine and six.

Police have requested video from a car garage that covers one of the key exit points from the fields where she went missing.

Officers wanted footage for Thursday January 26, widening the CCTV trawl beyond the day of her disappearance, according to The Times.

Ms Bulley vanished shortly after dropping her daughters at school.

The mortgage adviser’s phone was found on a bench overlooking the river, still connected to a work call.

Mr Ansell has described MsBulley as “fun”, “loving”, “the most loyal friend you could ever have” and an “exceptional mum” who “absolutely adores our girls”.

“She’s just a pillar of strength to our family and without her, the hole is bigger than you can possibly imagine,” he told 5 News.

Mr Ansell said that although the family is going through “unprecedented hell”, hope that his partner will be found is “stronger than ever”.

Police have discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.

On Thursday, the focus of their search switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with patrol and rescue boats spotted in the area.

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