What we know about death of Nicola Bulley as inquest begins

26 June 2023, 09:50 | Updated: 26 June 2023, 12:41

Read the latest: Nicola Bulley's cause of death revealed as inquest hears she was alive when she entered river

Inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley begins today
Inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley begins today. Picture: Social Media/Alamy

By StephenRigley

The disappearance of Nicola Bulley was one of the most high-profile cases in recent years producing a social media frenzy, questions in parliament and intense criticism of the police and media.

Her body was found in the River Wyre on February 19 around a mile from where the mother-of-two, aged 45, vanished, while walking her dog in St Michael's on the Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.

Here is a timeline of events after her disappearance:

Nicola Bulley
Nicola Bulley. Picture: Lancashire Police

Read More: Inquest begins in bid to search for answers behind Nicola Bulley's death in River Wyre six months ago

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- January 27

8.26am - Ms Bulley left her home with her two daughters, aged six and nine, dropping them off at school and engaging in a brief conversation with another parent around 15 minutes later.

8.43am - She then took her spaniel, Willow, for a walk along the path by the River Wyre.

8.50am - A dog walker who knew her saw her, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways.

8.53am - Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, followed by a message to her friends six minutes later.

9.01am - She logs on to a work Microsoft Teams call.

9.10am - Last known sighting of Ms Bulley by a second witness.

9.20am - Her phone was back in the area of the bench before the Teams call ended 10 minutes later, with her mobile remaining logged on after the call.

9.33am - Another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with her dog darting between the two.

10.50am - Ms Bulley's family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance. Police are called and she is deemed a "high risk" missing person.

- January 28

Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation.

- January 29

Around 100 locals meet in the village hall to organise a search party. Police urge caution, describing the river and its banks as "extremely dangerous".

- January 30

Police hold first press conference, Superintendent Sally Riley, from Lancashire Constabulary, said officers were "keeping a really open mind about what could have happened", and that they were not treating Ms Bulley's disappearance as suspicious.

- January 31

Ms Bulley's family release a statement saying they had been "overwhelmed by the support" in their community, and that her daughters were "desperate to have their mummy back home safe".

- February 1

Ms Bulley's parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, tell the Daily Mirror of the "horror" they face over the possibility of never seeing her again.

- February 2

Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit search the area close to where Ms Bulley's mobile phone was found.

- February 3

Lancashire Police said it was working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.

Supt Riley urged against speculation, but said it was "possible" that an "issue" with Ms Bulley's dog may have led her to the water's edge.

- February 4

Ms Bulley's friend, Emma White, cast doubt on the police theory that she fell into a river, telling Sky News it was based on "limited information".

In a Facebook post, Ms Bulley's sister Louise Cunningham urged people to "keep an open mind" as there is "no evidence whatsoever" her sister fell in the river.

- February 5

Peter Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), began three days of searching the river after being called in by Ms Bulley's family - but nothing is found.

- February 6

Ms Bulley's partner Paul Ansell, in a statement released through Lancashire Police, said: "It's been 10 days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back."

- February 10

Police urged people to refrain from indulging in commentary and conspiracy theories about Ms Bulley's disappearance as speculation increases online.

- February 15

Police hold a press conference at force HQ and reveal Ms Bulley was classed as a "high-risk" missing person immediately after she was reported missing due to "vulnerabilities".

They later "clarify" the vulnerabilities and disclose Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.

- February 16

In a statement released through Lancashire Police, Ms Bulley's family said the focus had become "distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her private life" and called for it to end.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded an "explanation" over the disclosure of Ms Bulley's private information by the force, following growing criticism of the move.

- February 17

Lancashire Police announced it was conducting an internal review into the handling of Ms Bulley's disappearance and the Information Commissioner said he would ask the force questions about the disclosure.

- February 18

Ms Braverman met with police leaders to discuss the handling of the investigation after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also expressed "concerns" about the revelations into Ms Bulley's private life.

- February 19

At 2.32pm, Lancashire Police reveals a body has been found in the river after it was called earlier that day at 11.36am to an area of the River Wyre, about a mile from where Ms Bulley first disappeared.

- February 20

The force confirmed the body had been identified as Ms Bulley.

In a statement, Ms Bulley's family said she was "the centre of our world".

- June 26

Inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley begins at County Hall, Preston.

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