Nicola Bulley: body of 45-year-old mum identified by her dental records, inquest hears
Nicola Bulley was found in the River Wyre in Lancashire around a mile from where she was last seen alive on 27 January
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Nicola Bulley was identified using her dental records, the opening of her inquest has heard.
Senior coroner Dr James Adeley, sitting at Preston Coroner’s Court, said he had contacted consultant maxillofacial surgeon Ian Edwards to ask him to compare dental records obtained by police from the Great Eccleston dental surgery.
He said: “He examined the body that was located in the River Wyre near Rawcliffe Road in St Michael’s on Wyre at 2.15pm on February 20.”
Dr Adeley said the surgeon found restorative work carried out was identical. He said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities, and more, that positive identification has been made.”
Coroner Dr James Adeley added that Ms Bulley’s family had been informed of the date, time and place of the opening of the inquest and had chosen not to attend “for reasons I can quite understand.”
He said remaining evidence gathered by police and the post-mortem examination required “further evaluation” and a full inquest was likely to be held in June, once availability of a Home Office pathologist had been checked.
Ms Bulley’s body was pulled from the River Wyre in Lancashire on Sunday (19 February), more than three weeks after she last seen on 27 January. She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school.
Her body was found on a stretch of the river just past a slight bend, a mile or so outside the village, close to where a tree had fallen on its side half in and half out of the water, with branches and undergrowth partially submerged. It is understood that a man and a woman discovered the body and called police – who said they were called to the River Wyre close to Rawcliffe Road at around 11.35am on Sunday.
In a press conference on Monday (20 February), Lancashire Constabulary described the investigation into her disappearance as “hugely complex and highly emotional”, but failed to address the widespread criticism it had received for releasing some aspects of the 45-year-old’s private life to the public, including her struggles with alcohol. Police also did not disclose why it took 23 days to find her body in the river.
Ms Bulley’s family said in a statement on Monday that they can let her “rest now” following the discovery of her body, before going on to question the role of the press during the investigation, accusing the media of “misquoting and vilifying” her partner Paul Ansell, relatives and friends.
The statement said: “It saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them (Ms Bulley’s children) that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.
“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable. This cannot happen to another family. Do the press and other media channels and so-called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives.”
The family also criticised Sky News and ITV for contacting them after her body was discovered “when we expressly asked for privacy”. It is understood Sky News had open two-way dialogue with Ms Bulley’s family and the police since she was reported missing.
Lancashire Constabulary has since confirmed a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation and Downing Street said it expected the force to be “transparent” about handling of the case.
Asked whether Rishi Sunak believed an independent, external review would be necessary, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our position is to allow the existing process to report back. We would expect them to detail their findings and then obviously we will consider the next steps as appropriate.”