Police identify 'woman in red' as they step up search for missing mum Nicola Bulley

2 February 2023, 13:20 | Updated: 2 February 2023, 15:47

The search for Nicola has entered its seventh day
The search for Nicola has entered its seventh day. Picture: Lancashire Constabulary/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Police have identified a woman in red as part of their search for missing mum Nicola Bulley.

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The woman - seen on local CCTV - is believed to have been in the area at the time Ms Bulley went missing.

Ms Bulley had been walking her Spaniel, Willow at 9.15am on Friday morning near the river before vanishing. She was dialled in to a work conference call at the time.

The witness in the area was described as wearing a red and white coat with a fir hood, light-coloured trousers and a light bobble hat. She was walking a small, white dog.

She was seen on CCTV at around 8.48am on Allotment Lane, close to where Nicola was last seen and was also seen near to the gate at the end of Allotment Lane.

The witness police are searching for over Ms Bulley's disappearance.
The witness police are searching for over Ms Bulley's disappearance. Picture: Lancashire Constabulary

Read more: 'Her two little girls need their mummy home': partner of missing mum Nicola Bulley describes family's 'perpetual hell'

Read more: Woman, 45, who went missing while walking dog ‘was on work conference call when she disappeared’

Specialist officers are scouring the area and have sealed off the bench where Ms Bulley's phone was discovered almost a week ago.

A dive team and sniffer dogs were seen on the banks of the River Wyre in Lancashire as the search for the mother-of-two stepped up in its seventh day on Thursday.

Police and divers conduct search for Nicola Bulley

An officer could be seen standing guard on the bank as teams searched the river with an underwater camera.

Overhanging trees along the river were also checked for items of interest.

Bunches of flowers were left at the scene from local dog walkers paying tribute to Ms Bulley and her family.

A diver with the specialist search teams from Lancashire Police on the banks of the River Wyre,
A diver with the specialist search teams from Lancashire Police on the banks of the River Wyre,. Picture: Alamy
Tributes left at the scene
Tributes left at the scene. Picture: Alamy
Specialist search teams from Lancashire Police, beside the bench where Nicola Bulley's phone was found
Specialist search teams from Lancashire Police, beside the bench where Nicola Bulley's phone was found. Picture: Alamy

Ms Bulley's father said he was struggling to ‘hold it together’ as he awaited updates on his daughter.

He told the Mirror he was struggling to be in the same room as his granddaughters, aged six and nine, as they ask: “Where mummy is, and when is mummy coming home?”

“It’s so hard,” he added.

Divers are searching the water
Divers are searching the water. Picture: Alamy
Specialist teams search the river
Specialist teams search the river. Picture: Alamy

Her last known movements

  • 9.15am January 27: Nicola was seen walking east along a towpath alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire She was walking her dog there after dropping her daughters off at School, leaving her car in the school car park nearby
  • 10.15am: The alarm is raised at 10.15am by a walker who found her Springer Spaniel running loose The dog’s harness and lead were found on a bench, along with her phone, which was still connected to a work conference call
Police still say they believe Nicola has disappeared with no foul play
Police still say they believe Nicola has disappeared with no foul play. Picture: Alamy

Her parents, Ernest, 73 and Dot, 72 told the paper yesterday: “We will never stop looking for her.”

They said she was in good spirits last time they spoke and that her disappearance was totally out of character.

Her dad said there was 'no sign' of her having fallen in the river. Ernest said: "There was no sign of a slip or falling in so our thought was 'has somebody got her'?

Talking about their last conversation, her dad said: “"She had done her work and she was very upbeat about getting her mortgage sorted.

"I said we better go now and Nicola came to the front door, and I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her and that was the last conversation I had with her."

Police and sniffer dogs are searching the perimeter of an 'abandoned' old house in the hunt for her.

It comes after it emerged Nicola's daughters heard the devastating news their mum had gone missing when their dad told them “mummy’s lost.”

Nicola’s daughters broke down in tears at the news and a friend of hers said: “We just want her home.”

Nicola has been missing for five days now, after she vanished while walking her dog on a towpath by the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

Her phone was on a bench near the spot she went missing, still dialled into a business call.

Ms Bulley's mum told the Sun: “Paul had to tell the girls what was going on. He just told them, ''Mummy's lost''. It's heartbreaking.”

An abandoned house has been searched as part of the hunt for missing mum Nicola.

Kev Camplin of Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue told The Mirror: "The abandoned house is right opposite the bench on the other side of the river, over a 10ft garden wall.

"We didn’t go into the house, as a volunteer search and rescue team we don’t actually go into buildings. We might go into a barn or something. We leave that to the police.

"While the team was searching the grounds, the owner was there for some reason, and we asked him to go in and he had a quick look around and she wasn’t there."

Earlier on Tuesday, Lancashire Police had appealed to find a witness who was believed to have been in the area at the time mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen.

She went missing last Friday morning, with her mobile phone found on a bench near to where she was last seen on a towpath by the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

Immediately before going missing, Ms Bulley was walking her dog, springer spaniel Willow, who was found loose between the river and bench.

A police spokesman said of the potential witness: "He has since been located and is currently being spoken to.

"Our thanks to those who shared our appeal."

The location of the bench it is believed that Ms Bulley left her mobile phone on before she vanished on Friday
The location of the bench it is believed that Ms Bulley left her mobile phone on before she vanished on Friday. Picture: Google Maps

Earlier police had said the man, who was walking a small white fluffy dog on a lead, had spoken to a woman in the area who found Ms Bulley's dog, before he walked in the direction of Rowanwater.

Police have said they are keeping an "open mind" about what happened, but do not believe Ms Bulley was attacked.

In a statement, her family said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and would like to thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to help us find Nicola.

"The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola.

"We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their inquiries."

A search of the area involving police specialist resources, the Coastguard and Bowland Mountain Rescue is continuing.

"Bit spooky too!"
"Bit spooky too!". Picture: Social media
Officers from Lancashire Police searching for missing woman Nicola Bulley
Officers from Lancashire Police searching for missing woman Nicola Bulley. Picture: Alamy

Ms Bulley is described as white, 5ft 3in, with light brown, shoulder-length hair.

At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellington boots.

Superintendent Sally Riley said: “We know that Nicola going missing has caused a great deal of concern for the wider local community, as well as obviously being an awful time for her family.

“This remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.

“I appreciate that there are unanswered questions about what has happened to Nicola, but I would urge people not to speculate or spread false rumours. We will share updates when we can, but we must be factual.

Nicola Bulley disappeared in St Michael's on Wyre
Nicola Bulley disappeared in St Michael's on Wyre. Picture: Google Maps

“Nicola’s family are being kept up to date with events and are being supported by officers.

“We are really grateful for the community’s help and co-operation so far, but I’d like to stress again parts of the riverbank are treacherous, especially after the recent rain, and we would ask that nobody puts themselves in danger and that the police and partner agencies’ efforts to find Nicola are not compromised.

“We now want to speak to the woman pictured on CCTV as we believe she was walking in the area at around the time Nicola was last seen.

"If you know her, or believe this may be you, please get in touch. You may not think you know anything but you might have seen something that could be significant.”

Anyone who has seen Ms Bulley, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30, or call 999 if they have an immediate sighting.

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