A retired detective says she supports the police theory that missing Lancashire mum-of-two Nicola Bulley fell into the water, based on three factors.
Mortgage advisor Nicola, 45, has been missing since January 27 – when she disappeared while walking her spaniel Willow along the River Wyre in St Michael’s On Wyre.
Lancashire Police were seen combing the river bank after launching a massive search using diving teams, search dogs, drones and boats without any luck.
Read more: Nicola Bulley latest updates as partner Paul Ansell believes local person is to blame for her disappearance
Mirror Online reports how the search was expanded to Morecambe Bay this week when specialists were seen searching under Shard Bridge – seven miles from where Nicola was last seen.
Police say their “main working hypothesis” is that she fell in a river, however they insist they are keeping an open mind.
Retired Detective Superintendent Julie Mackay, who previously solved a 32-year-old murder, says she backs the police’s working hypothesis because:
- No new information has come out giving them a reason to think otherwise
- It is unlikely to be criminal based on the time she disappeared – around 9am
- Wintery conditions would make it more difficult to find her
Speaking about the search so far, she said: “I still believe she’s gone in that river – today when you look at the last two weeks and review it, nothing has changed.”
Even though she hasn’t been found near the potential entry point near the bench, it doesn’t mean she is not there, said the former Det Supt.
Extensive searches by police and underwater forensic expert Peter Faulding have so far been unsuccessful. When asked about this the former police officer said: “I think it is good to always have other specialists to try and find new leads or try and support the work that has been done.
“They too are 100 per cent that she is not in that area in the river if she has gone in by the bend. The other bit of speculation is how hard it is to travel over that Wyre.
“It’s not as unusual as you think. If she’s then sadly gone over that Wyre it becomes tidal and then the possibility that she’s gone out to sea is still quite possible. On the face of it I still agree with the police.”
Speaking about whether he disappearance could be a criminal act, she said: “I don’t think it’s a criminal – there would have been a clue along the way. If you were looking at a criminal act it is usually from an opportunist.
“Where women are attacked by a stranger and sexually assaulted and or sadly murdered it’s spontaneous. It’s rare they would camp out the area, check the route, the CCTV and do it at all around 9am. This is when you are weighing up the pros and cons of third-party involvement.
However it’s good that it is highlighted and that police continue to explore every opportunity.”
The former Det Supt – author of To Hunt a Killer: How I Brought Melanie Road’s Murderer to Justice – says Nicola’s clothes would have weighed her down, which backs up the theory that she went into the river. She was last seen wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive-green ankle wellies.
Ms Mackay said: “Generally wearing winter clothes makes it more difficult to get out it will weigh you down. The cold water shock alone will knock you sideways even for an experienced swimmer.”
Based on her experience from working along the Somerset coast people aren’t always immediately found if it involves water, said the former detective.
She added: “That cold water shock very quickly disorientates you and with winter clothes it’s heavy and panic will set in. And once you start losing control it can be quite difficult to regain it.”
When asked why no one had seen her in the river, she said: “I don’t think it is unusual no one saw her in the river because there is a lot of debris, logs and rubbish. People don’t expect to see something they can’t identify.
“It’s also how the body operates in the water, it sinks until decomposition sets in and because it’s so cold it may be a bit longer.”
Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell has said he doesn’t believe Nicola was in the river and feared someone else was involved. Speaking on Channel 5, he said: “Extensive searching, as you’re probably aware, has gone on in that river.
“The fact that the divers and underwater rescue team and all that were in that river on the day, and thankfully found absolutely nothing, in the part where you would have to presume is her last known location. Personally, I am 100 per cent convinced it’s not the river, that’s my opinion.”
“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, it’s a local area.”
“You see the same faces every single day, and on the very odd occasion when you see somebody that you know, you don’t know. They stand out like a sore thumb.”
Julie Mackay is the author of To Hunt a Killer: How I Brought Melanie Road’s Murderer to Justice.
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