Snaps of Nicola Bulley’s dog swimming raise doubts about police theory

Nicola Bulley: ‘We’re in a difficult position’ says Peter Faulding

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Pictures of Willow, missing mum Nicola Bulley’s springer spaniel, happily swimming in the water have raised serious questions about a police theory related to her disappearance. Ms Bulley, 45, has been not been seen since she took her dog for a walk along the River Wyre, in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on the morning of January 27.

Her mobile phone was subsequently found on a bench which overlooks the water, with Willow wandering close by.

Police continue to search for her, with their main theory that she accidentally fell into the water.

Speaking earlier this week, Superintendent Sam Riley said there was a possibility Ms Bulley had walked to the water’s edge as a result of something connected with Willow.

She further suggested the dog, who was completely dry when she was found, may have dropped a tennis ball into the river.

The implication would appear to be that Ms Bulley had been concerned in case Willow decided to jump in after it.

Supt Riley said: “Anything could have happened with the dog whereby Nicola may have gone – and I don’t wish to speculate, we don’t know – but it is possible the dog was loose and off the lead that there may have been an issue with the dog that led her to go near to the water’s edge.

“She put the phone down momentarily and Nicola may have fallen in. That is a possibility,”

However, pictures which she shared on social media months earlier indicate it would not been a problem if Willow had gone for a swim.

In one snap, taken on July 5, 2022 and tagged as being taken in St Michael’s on Wyre, Willow has a ball in her mouth and is swimming happily towards Nicola.

Ms Bulley captioned it: “A quick morning walk before a busy day ahead! “Willow living her best life!”

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A second picture, taken in April of last year, shows a dripping wet Willow on a sandbank next to the river, having clearly just chased the ball into the water.

Another third photo shows Willow just before she entered the water.

Lancashire Police have dismissed any suggestion Ms Bulley is a victim of crime and say the scale of the missing person inquiry is “unprecedented”, involving 40 detectives and following 500 lines of inquiry.

Numerous searches of the “hot-spot” area near the bench, the suspected “entry point” of where Ms Bulley went into the water, have been conducted by police divers and underwater search experts.

Ms Bulley’s family called in help from Peter Faulding, of Specialist Group International, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace of Ms Bulley was found.

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Mr Faulding said his searches confirmed Ms Bulley was not in the section of river searched by his team and police divers, but described himself as “baffled” after ending his fruitless search.

Police search teams were today spotted on the River Wyre, miles from where Ms Bulley first went missing 14 days ago.

A dinghy with two officers on board could be seen on the water, as the focus of the massive search shifted from where she vanished to farther downstream, towards where the River Wyre empties into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.

An orange rescue boat was also spotted appearing to do sweeps of the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the bay, about 10 miles downstream from where the 45-year-old vanished on January 27.

Lancashire Police declined to comment when contacted by

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