Missing Nicola Bulley update: police locate ‘potential witness’ as search continues for dog walker

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Nicola Bulley went missing on Friday 27 January while walking her dog

Police searching for a woman who went missing while out walking her dog have located a “potentially key witness”.

Mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, went missing last Friday morning (27 January) and was last seen walking along a towpath by the River Wyre off Garstang Road in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. Lancashire Police say her mobile phone was found on a bench near the riverbank and it was still connected to a conference call when it was discovered.

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Immediately before going missing, the 45-year-old was walking her dog, springer spaniel Willow, who was found loose between the river and bench. Nicola posted photos from the walk in November, describing it as “spooky”.

Nicola Bulley went missing on Friday 27 January while walking her dog (Photo: Facebook)Nicola Bulley went missing on Friday 27 January while walking her dog (Photo: Facebook)
Nicola Bulley went missing on Friday 27 January while walking her dog (Photo: Facebook) | Facebook

On Tuesday (31 January), a spokesman for police said they are keen to find a man believed to have been in the area at the time Ms Bulley was last seen. He is described as being aged about 70, white, 6ft, well-built and was walking a small white fluffy dog on a lead.

He spoke to a woman in the area who found Ms Bulley’s dog, before he walked in the direction of Rowanwater. Later this afternoon, 31 January, officers confirmed the man had come forward and was being spoken to.

Police have warned residents to ‘stay safe’ because the ‘river and its banks are extremely dangerous’ and present a ‘genuine risk to the public’.Police have warned residents to ‘stay safe’ because the ‘river and its banks are extremely dangerous’ and present a ‘genuine risk to the public’.
Police have warned residents to ‘stay safe’ because the ‘river and its banks are extremely dangerous’ and present a ‘genuine risk to the public’.

The force said it is keeping an “open mind” about what happened but do not believe Ms Bulley was attacked. In a statement, her family said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and would like to thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to help us find Nicola.

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“The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola. We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their inquiries.”

Specialist search officers drive a boat along the River Wyre where Lancashire Police are searching (Photo: PA)Specialist search officers drive a boat along the River Wyre where Lancashire Police are searching (Photo: PA)
Specialist search officers drive a boat along the River Wyre where Lancashire Police are searching (Photo: PA) | PA

‘We remain extremely concerned’

A search of the area involving police specialist resources, the Coastguard and Bowland Mountain Rescue is still ongoing.

Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell, speaking from the family home in Inskip, Lancashire, said he spent all of Sunday searching for the mother-of-two. The engineer, who has been in a relationship with Ms Bulley for 12 years, said: “It is just perpetual hell. It is just utter disbelief. We are living through this but it doesn’t feel real.

“All we can say is we need to find her. She’s got two little girls that need their mummy home. We have got to get some good news now.”

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The mortgage adviser is described as white, 5ft 3in, with light brown, shoulder-length hair. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellington boots. She speaks with an Essex accent and police say her hair was tied in a pony tail.

Supt Sally Riley said: “We remain extremely concerned for Nicola and we continue to do everything we can to try and find her and to provide some answers for her family, who are obviously beside themselves with worry.

“I must stress at this time that this remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.

Police want to speak to a 'potential key witness' who may have been in the area at the time Nicola Bulley went missingPolice want to speak to a 'potential key witness' who may have been in the area at the time Nicola Bulley went missing
Police want to speak to a 'potential key witness' who may have been in the area at the time Nicola Bulley went missing

“We appreciate there is also a great deal of concern in the local community, and we appreciate people want to help. However, parts of the riverbank are treacherous, and we would ask that nobody puts themselves in danger and that the police and partner agencies’ efforts to find Nicola are not compromised.

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“If anybody has any questions or concerns, they are welcome to speak to officers in the area.”

Anyone who has seen Ms Bulley, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30, or call 999 if they have an immediate sighting.