Exclusive

Search and rescue expert 'baffled' by Nicola Bulley's disappearance says 'it's like she's been taken by aliens'

7 February 2023, 09:55 | Updated: 7 February 2023, 11:52

Search and Rescue expert: 'It's like she's been taken by aliens.'

By Will Taylor

A diver brought in to help police search for missing Nicola Bulley has admitted he is "baffled" by her disappearance after searching part of a river and thinks she might not even be there.

Search expert Peter Faulding told LBC he had spoken to Paul, Ms Bulley's boyfriend for around half an hour, to "ask if she had any stalkers or enemies or anything, but he's completely baffled as well."

The search expert said it appeared to be "a totally normal day" for Ms Bulley, adding: "She didn't take much stuff with her, it's like she's been taken by aliens."

Speaking to LBC's reporter Alice Sofield on the banks of the river the search expert said his team had previously focused downstream with the focus pivoting several miles upriver.

Earlier Faulding, who brought his team from Specialist Group International (SGI) to Lancashire to help the operation, said police fear the phone found on a bench where Ms Bulley vanished could be a "decoy".

Police have been working with a theory that she might have slipped while walking her dog on a towpath in St Michael's on Wyre.

"Police were there on day one diving where the phone was found on the bench," Mr Faulding, the CEO of SGI, told the Daily Mail.

"Normally, if a person has drowned, they go down within a few metres if being searched for the same day.

Read more: Nicola Bulley's partner 'extremely distraught' as CCTV images released showing the missing mum before she vanished

Read more: Nicola Bulley latest news: Timeline of events for the the search of missing mother-of-two

"In another couple of days I will be confident she is not in that area at all. We have the best sonar you can buy. We have scanned a huge area today and there is nothing there.

"I am hoping we don't find her at all and she has just done a disappearing act and returns."

He added: "A body will move after a time, but they searched that area and came up with nothing - that is what is weird here. We are baffled."

The partner of Ms Bulley said she "has to be found safe and well" because he "can't put those girls to bed again with no answers", as police released new images of her from the day she vanished.

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

Retracing Nicola Bulley's steps

Ms Bulley, 45, was last seen in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire at around 9.10am on the morning of January 27.

Her phone and dog were found at around 9:30am at a bench near the river by another dog-walker.

But Mr Faulding said: "The police have nothing to go on. All they have is a mobile phone at the moment and they said it could possibly be a decoy."

There has been no trace of her with search efforts ramping up as the search continues into its second week.

The police's "main working hypothesis" is that the mother-of-two fell into the River Wyre near to the village of St Michael's on Wyre.

Read more: Relatives of woman murdered with her toddler by Andrew Innes say killer ‘cruelly snuffed out hope and light of family’

Read more: 'Where is she?': Nicola Bulley's children 'desperately want her home' as local community remains 'in shock'

But her family and friends have claimed there is "no evidence" to support this.

Police released new images from Ms Bulley's doorbell camera today showing her on the day she vanished.

Nicola's partner Paul 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.

Mr Ansell (R) with Nicola Bulley.
Mr Ansell (R) with Nicola Bulley. Picture: Facebook

"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.”

In an additional voice note, sent to Sky News, Mr Ansell said: "We have to find her safe and well. I can't put those girls to bed again tonight with no answers."

Lancashire Police said that the force is "doing all it can to find the missing mum-of-two".

"And as part of our continuing efforts, we are again appealing for anyone with dashcam or other footage to submit it to us," it said.

"Our working hypothesis remains that Nicola, 45, sadly fell into the river for some reason, but we remain open minded, and we are continuing to carry out a huge number of enquiries.

Nicola Bulley was last seen with dog Willow on the morning of January 27.
Nicola Bulley was last seen with dog Willow on the morning of January 27. Picture: Lancashire Police

"Our priority throughout this investigation has been on finding Nicola and providing answers for her family. They are being supported by specially trained officers."

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.

Lancashire Police also confirmed that Nicola Bulley did not leave the field where she was walking Willow via Rowanwater, either through the site itself or via the piece of land at the side.

Officers are now focusing on a river path that leads from the fields back to Garstang Road and are appealing for drivers and cyclists to come forward.

The pictures show the mother-of-two wearing a long dark coat - believed to be black - accompanied by her dog. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a ponytail.
The pictures show the mother-of-two wearing a long dark coat - believed to be black - accompanied by her dog. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a ponytail. Picture: Lancashire Police

Detective Supt Rebecca Smith said: "The team working on this investigation are completely dedicated and determined to find Nicola.

"As a mother myself, I can't even begin to imagine what her two children are going through.

"Please be reassured that our sole focus is Nicola and that we are doing everything we can to find her.

"It is not possible to provide every piece of information to the public because to do so would detract from the investigation, but I'd like to thank everyone who has assisted us so far and for the support provided to Nicola's family at this extremely difficult time.

"They are being supported and updated throughout."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jay Slater's family will fly back with his body

Jay Slater's family to return to UK with his body as his heartbroken mum begins funeral plans

English cricketer James Vince

England cricket star James Vince and his family ‘living in fear’ after home attacked twice in middle of the night

Six people were found dead at a luxury hotel in Bangkok died from cyanide

Six people who died 'foaming at the mouth' in five-star luxury Thai hotel were poisoned by drinks laced with cyanide

Live
Britain's King Charles III speaks during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London.

King's Speech Live: Starmer pledges to 'take the brakes off Britain' and 'turbo charge' housebuilding

UK inflation remains unchanged

UK inflation remains unchanged at 2% - holding steady at Bank of England's target rate

Rachel Reeves is facing calls to launch an inheritance tax raid on pension pots

Rachel Reeves faces calls to launch inheritance tax raid on pension pots in bid to raise extra £2 billion a year

Keir Starmer will reform the planning system

Local residents to lose power to block new housing as Starmer vows to 'get rid of brakes on planning system'

Exclusive
The Bibby Stockholm is now almost full with 410 people on board, LBC has learned

Mutiny on the Bibby: Migrants go on hunger strike and protests erupt on ‘hell barge’ Bibby Stockholm

A third pro is said to have been named as a 'person of interest' in the Strictly investigation

'Third Strictly professional dancer named' as 'person of interest' in investigation into abuse and bullying claims

Joe Biden has vowed to outlaw the gun used to shoot at Donald Trump

Joe Biden vows to outlaw assault rifle gunman used to shoot at Donald Trump, as he says 'politics has got too heated'

Police confirmed the human remains belonged to missing teen Jay Slater after a 29-day search

Jay Slater's mother 'wants to see him one last time' after Spanish authorities confirm body found is her missing son

Enzo Fernandez filmed himself and his Argentina teammates singing an offensive song

Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez slammed by teammate Fofana for 'uninhibited racism' after offensive chant

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Boris Johnson urges Donald Trump to support Ukraine in one-on-one meeting

Snipers weren't placed on the "sloping roof" used by the shooter who attempted to assassinate Presidential nominee Donald Trump over "safety concerns", the head of the US Secret Service has admitted.

Snipers weren't placed on 'sloping roof' used by would-be Trump assassin over 'safety' concerns

Jay Slater vanished in Tenerife on June 17

GoFundMe gives update on ‘next steps’ for £58,000 Jay Slater fundraiser as teen's body found

King Charles III and Queen Camilla viewing rare Golden Guernsey Goats

Charles and Camilla present royal title to goats saved from the Nazis on visit to Channel islands