'We won't lose hope': Nicola Bulley's partner still plans to marry her as his 'gut instinct' is 'she's not in river'

11 February 2023, 07:20 | Updated: 11 February 2023, 18:16

Nicola Bulley has been missing for more than two weeks
Nicola Bulley has been missing for more than two weeks. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Nicola Bulley's distraught partner has said he still has plans to marry his missing partner, insisting that he does not believe the mum-of-two has fallen into the river near where she went missing.

Paul Ansell said that Ms Bulley "is coming home" and that he can't "think of any other option" as he doubled down on his belief that she did not fall into the river.

Mr Ansell said that "nothing" about the situation feels real, and that he believes something must have happened to Nicola in the nearby village.

He spoke of the couple's plans to get married, which were put on hold originally due to the pandemic.

Paul Ansell still has plans to marry missing Nicola Bulley
Paul Ansell still has plans to marry missing Nicola Bulley. Picture: Alamy
Nicola Bulley went missing more than two weeks ago
Nicola Bulley went missing more than two weeks ago. Picture: Social media

"We talked about it again seriously at the beginning of 2020. And that was when we really started to actually look at getting something sort of in the calendar," he told Channel 5.

"And then obviously the whole covid thing hit which just, I mean, everybody's life was just thrown up into the air." Mr Ansell added that he still hopes for his partner to return home safely so they can still plan a wedding for the future.

Read More: 'It's something in the village': Nicola Bulley's partner believes St Michael's on Wyre may hold key to her disappearance

Read more: Three CCTV blind spots could hold the key to Nicola Bulley's disappearance as police trawl dashcam footage

In his latest interview, Mr Ansell reiterated that he was "100 per cent" that the 45-year-old did not fall in the water as the police theorised, calling for them to widen their search to all nearby homes and outbuildings.

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.

Mr Ansell said, despite feeling "anger", "utter frustration" and "confusion", the family will never give up hope of finding Ms Bulley, adding he was "never, ever going to let go".

"Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn't give up on anybody. And we're not gonna ever give up on her like, we're going to find her," he said.

Police officers scouring riverbed near where Nicola Bulley went missing
Police officers scouring riverbed near where Nicola Bulley went missing. Picture: Alamy

He went on to say: "There has to be a way to find out what happened, there has to be. You cannot, you cannot walk your dog down a river and just vanish into thin air. Something happened that day, something."

He said the family had replayed several scenarios in their heads over and over since she disappeared and that it was “enough to make you go crazy”.

"For the last two weeks, we've literally just gone over and over and over it and then you get to a brick wall for every single scenario that you talk about," he said

"None of them make sense. And then you go back to the beginning and you start again."

Lancashire Police said Ms Bulley "may have" gone into the river but said they are keeping an open mind over her disappearance.

In an update on Friday, police said: "Throughout this investigation we have been keeping an open mind about what might have happened to Nicola, and we continue to look at all the potential scenarios to eliminate them."We are reviewing our decisions regularly.

"Based on all the work we have done up to now our belief remains that Nicola may have fallen into the river for some reason, but we are continuing to investigate all possible leads, and this involves viewing CCTV, Dashcam footage and speaking to people who are providing us with information."

The search for Nicola Bulley has moved to the coast
The search for Nicola Bulley has moved to the coast. Picture: Getty

It comes after the diving specialist who led the river search for the missing mum-of-two first revealed earlier that Mr Ansell "doesn't think [Ms Bulley] went in the river".

Peter Faulding said Mr Ansell was growing less convinced with the police theory that she fell in the water.

"He was shocked at how shallow the rocks were yesterday," Mr Faulding said.

"He thought it was really deep there. If she had gone in she would have landed on the rocks," he told the Sun.

"The family thanked us for being here. They said 'You've given us confidence now' and his belief is that Nicola has not gone in that river."

The search for the missing mother has now extended to the sea two weeks after she originally went missing.

Caller met with 'abuse' and 'threats' in helping to find Nicola Bulley