Amateur sleuths hunting Nicola Bulley banned from searching abandoned house after police warning

9 February 2023, 12:52 | Updated: 9 February 2023, 14:29

A group of amateur sleuths travelled from Liverpool to search for Nicola Bulley
A group of amateur sleuths travelled from Liverpool to search for Nicola Bulley. Picture: Alamy/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Lancashire Police have issued a dispersal order after a group of amateur sleuths travelled from Liverpool to search an abandoned house near where Nicola Bulley went missing.

On Wednesday night, Lancashire Police issued a dispersal order as a group of men wanted to search a house on the other side of the river where police said Ms Bulley fell into.

Earlier this week, superintendent Sally Riley warned police would not tolerate members of the public taking the law into their own hands.

She said: “We will not tolerate online abuse of anyone, including innocent witnesses, members of the family and friends, of local businesses, or of criminal damage or burglary. We will be taking a strong line on that, as you would expect.”

Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley
Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley. Picture: Alamy

It comes as a heartbreaking new photo shows missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley celebrating her 45th birthday with a "cheeky prosecco" before she went missing.

Ms Bulley can be seen posing with a bright pink birthday balloon and surrounded by cards from friends and family, as well as a cake.

On her business page - Nicola Bulley, Mortgage Adviser - she thanked everyone who had sent her birthday wishes, gifts and cards.

She said: "It's been a busy work day today and it's my birthday! Thank you to everyone that has sent me birthday wishes, gifts and cards! I'm feeling the love."

"I'm finally sat with a cheeky birthday Prosecco," she added.

Nicola Bulley celebrated her 45th birthday in October
Nicola Bulley celebrated her 45th birthday in October. Picture: Facebook

Ms Bulley was last seen in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, at around 9.15am on January 27 walking her dog.

Police divers and private specialists have scoured the river near where she was last seen, but there has been no trace of her.

Officers had maintained their theory that Ms Bulley fell into the river, but they are considering whether Ms Bulley could have left the area without being seen on CCTV.

Lancashire Police is trying to get any dashcam footage from the 700 drivers they have identified as passing along the main road in the village around the time the mother-of-two disappeared.

Private diving specialist Peter Faulding
Private diving specialist Peter Faulding. Picture: Getty

Read More: Expert diver leading river search for Nicola Bulley dramatically calls it off declaring she's not in the water

Read More: Nicola Bulley may have left towpath fields without being caught on CCTV, police fear

Diving specialist Peter Faulding, who was brought in to help with the police search, believes there could have been third party involvement.

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.

"Normally we get tasked with, you know, searching for a knife or a body and there's been a witness to a drowning or we've got really good intelligence.

"The sort of information we've got here is a mobile phone on a bench but we don't know anything else."

Ms Bulley's partner Paul Ansell paid an emotional visit to the riverside yesterday where he was pictured chatting with Mr Faulding about his partner's disappearance.

Paul Ansell visited the scene yesterday
Paul Ansell visited the scene yesterday. Picture: Alamy

Earlier this week, Mr Ansell said: "It's been ten days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back.

"This has been such a tough time for the girls especially but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends, as well as the wider community and I want to thank them for their love and support.

"We are also really grateful to Peter and his team from SGI for coming up and helping support the work of Lancashire Police as they continue their investigation.

"If anyone has any information which could help find Nicola, I urge them to get in touch with the police and help us provide the answers we all so badly need."

Police have hit out at amateur sleuths and online speculation over the case.

A poster asking for information on missing Nicola 'Nikki' Bulley is pictured on a tree close to where her phone and dog's harness were discovered
A poster asking for information on missing Nicola 'Nikki' Bulley is pictured on a tree close to where her phone and dog's harness were discovered. Picture: Getty

Superintendent Sally Riley said: "We will not tolerate online abuse of anyone, including innocent witnesses, members of the family and friends, of local businesses, or of criminal damage or burglary.

"We will be taking a strong line on that, as you would expect."

She added: "There are some properties along the riverside which are empty or derelict.

"Whilst it may be well intentioned that people think that that could be a line of inquiry, I would ask them to desist from doing that.

"In some cases it may be criminal if they are breaking in and causing damage or committing a burglary."

She went on: "Because there is no criminal element yet identified, and we don't expect there to be in this inquiry, then we're not starting to go into houses because that's not where the inquiry is leading us."

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