Diving expert claims video proves Nicola Bulley didn't fall into river

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The underwater search expert called in by Nicola Bulley’s family to help find the missing mum says this video is ‘proof’ she didn’t fall into the river.

Ms Bulley, 45, vanished on January 27 after dropping her two daughters – aged six and nine – at school, then taking her springer spaniel Willow for a walk along the River Wyre in Lancashire.

Her phone was left on the bench near the river, still connected to a work call, with the dog lead and harness found close by.

Peter Faulding and his team, from rescue operation Specialist Group International, have been searching the area around the bench, the ‘entry point’ where it is believed by police the mortgag adviser fell into the water.

But he said their three-day involvement ended on Wednesday after a ‘thorough and extensive search of the areas we were tasked with by Lancashire Police’ found ‘no sign of Nicola’.

On what he thinks happened to her, he said: ‘It’s a total mystery for me, I really don’t know.

‘In all the searches I’ve done, this is one which will stick with me.’

He added that he ‘can’t say one way or another’ whether she went into the water but ruled out ‘the area where Nicola supposedly went in’.

Mr Faulding also released video footage taken of the river during the search showing it to be slow-moving, meaning her body would have sunk ‘very quickly’ and remained nearby.

He also said the rocks by the bank, which would have been under just 2ft of water when she went missing, mean she could have simply ‘stood up’ if she’d fallen down.

And he urged police to conduct a ‘wider land search’ of outbuildings and sheds after his team’s sonar scans of the river failed to find any proof of her body in the river.

He said of the clip, showing a log barely moving on the water: ‘The log stayed at that point for 20 minutes, and it actually spiralled and went up six feet and came back to the same place.

‘The river on the day was slightly higher – it was about a foot higher – but I’d be very surprised in my experience [if she was there] as a body usually goes to the bottom very quickly.

‘If Nicola slipped down the bank, she would have landed in about 2ft of water but onto rocks, and she could have stood up.’

Mr Faulding was pictured visiting the scene where Ms Bulley disappeared with her partner Paul Ansell.

He said that after their conversation, Paul’s belief is that ‘Nicola has not gone in that river’.

The search expert 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. They said “You’ve given us confidence now” and his belief is that Nicola has not gone in that river.

‘We’ve gone about a mile upstream, which is way up the search area, and ruled there is nothing in that section of the river.

‘If you start putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, it’s very strange, and it would need an extremely strong current on the day to take her so quickly over the weir before the police arrived.

‘And if she was floating, she would have been seen by the public, or landed elsewhere – and there’s just no sign of this poor lady.’

Search teams from Lancashire Police and the Coastguard, including divers, are now focusing on the 10 miles or so of river downstream of the bench, where the River Wyre empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay.

Superintendent Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, described the search as ‘unprecedented’, with 40 detectives following 500 lines of inquiry, with thousands of pieces of information coming in from the public.

And officers were trying to trace dashcam footage from 700 drivers who went through the village on the morning Ms Bulley disappeared.

But Supt Riley ruled out criminal or third-party involvement and on Tuesday reiterated the police’s belief that Ms Bulley had fallen into the river, with her body still unrecovered and police treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.

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