Cop forensically examines Nicola Bulley clues from silent witness to family life

An ex Met Police chief has taken a forensic look at Nicola Bulley's disappearance, reviewing evidence and sharing key clues that could help police solve the case.

The 45-year-old dropped her kids off last Friday (January 27) and took her springer spaniel Willow out for a walk along a towpath in St Michaels on Wyre, Lancashire.

She hasn't been seen since, sparking a huge search.

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Lancashire Police do not believe her disappearance is suspicious and Superintendent Sally Riley today told a press briefing they are working off the hypothesis Nicola accidentally fell into the water.

And former Met Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kirkham has revealed what he believes is the most likely hypothesis in the case of the missing mum.

"Nothing can be definitively ruled in or out. But some theories are more likely than others," Peter told the Mirror.

Abduction is unlikely according to Peter, as there are few buildings nearby and it is not possible to access path area easily with a vehicle.

Self-harm is also unlikely as Nicola has no apparent history suggesting she suffered from this. Peter suggested however that this theory is possible if it involved the river.

Peter added that a mental breakdown/amnesia/or deliberate disappearance was again unlikely as there is no apparent history or reason, and no trace of her leaving the area.

"My most favoured hypothesis by far (on basis of what is known publicly) is an accident – somehow she has ended up in the river.

"It seems police favour this theory too, as they increasingly focus on searching the river," Peter said.

He added: “'She seems to have vanished 'in to thin air' pretty much sums it up."

Police suggested today that Nicola could have tried to retrieve Willow's tennis ball from the river and slipped in and been weighed down by her heavy clothes.

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Outdoor swimming expert Camilla Golledge told MailOnline the shock of the cold water could have hampered her ability to swim to safety.

Superintendent Riley said: "I'm not aware of a dog ball being retrieved but it's possible that a ball could have rolled down the steep bank close to the edge of the water and Ms Bulley was bending down to pick it up."

The chief added that her heavy clothing may also have been a factor.

Peter said that despite the fact there is only a window of about 25 minutes still to fill, there are very few enquiries the police can pursue to fill them.

He said there is unlikely to be more witnesses or CCTV. He said the bench that the mum left her phone on is unlikely to yield anything, too.

He added that checking her phone and expanding the search area along the river could be useful, but the dog is the key.

"For me, the key issue involves her dog, Willow. It is known she was with the dog around the bench area," he said about the key, albeit silent, witness who was found safe and dry.

"Willow’s harness and lead had been taken off but it seems likely the dog was allowed to run free, given the nature of the area.

"If the dog was aware that Nicola was leaving (or being taken from) the area it is very likely it would have followed. But it remained by the bench suggesting Nicola suddenly disappeared from the landscape.

"The most likely explanation for this would be her going in to the river, which is several feet below the level of the path and the eye-line of a dog."

He said, with this in mind, police should focus on searching for Nicola. Meanwhile, they should look at her family life.

"It is an old, but valid, adage that says if you wish to know how someone came to disappear or die, then find out how they lived.

"Investigating the personal relationships of the missing person in cases like this is extremely sensitive but it must be done as quickly as possible."


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