Witness 'saw two hooded men hiding their faces near Nicola Bulley's dog walking route' the day before she vanished

13 February 2023, 05:29 | Updated: 13 February 2023, 10:59

Nicola&squot;s partner Paul said he is "100 per cent" sure she is alive
Nicola's partner Paul said he is "100 per cent" sure she is alive. Picture: Social media

By Kit Heren

A witness in the case of disappearing mother Nicola Bulley saw two hooded men trying to hide their faces near where she vanished, according to reports.

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The 45-year-old mortgage adviser disappeared while walking her dog in quiet village St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire at 9.15am on January 27.

Police are still trying to find her weeks later, with friends and family determined not to give up hope for her safe return.

And a witness told the Sun that he saw two mysterious men on January 26 who "seemed to want to hide their faces".

He said: “I first saw the men at around 7.45am on my way to work on the Thursday, the day before Nicola Bulley vanished. I drive that way every day, so know the road well.

“I saw two men wearing dark clothing and hoods or hats and ­carrying fishing rods.“They could have been just two normal fishermen — and if I had seen their faces I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

"I remembered that they seemed to want to hide their faces, which struck me as odd. It wasn’t particularly cold that day — it was quite mild, so their behaviour, to me, seemed strange.

“At first I thought they must be poachers. You do get poachers on the river, and they don’t want to be seen.

“Obviously at that moment a woman hadn’t gone missing so I didn’t think anything more of it.”

The witness said he was driving through the village on the day Ms Bulley disappeared, and thought he saw them again.

He recalled: “It was around the same time, 7.45am.“This time it was just a glimpse, but I definitely saw one of them. I think I saw the second man, who was way ahead of the other, but I have been going over it a lot in my mind and I couldn’t swear my life on it.

“Again, the man I saw was carrying a fishing rod and covering his face.”The witness said the men did not seem to have a tackle or bait box, which he found odd.

He added: “I was away all that weekend so only heard about Nicola Bulley going missing on Sunday. I saw the police were appealing for information and it struck me that I should tell them what I saw, so I rang them on the Monday.”

No one got back to him, he said, so he called again a week later and police finally took his statement on February 8. Officers have now said they are investigating.

It comes as family and friends laid yellow ribbons on a bridge close to where Ms Bulley was last seen, with handwritten messages including “We need you home Nicola”, “praying for your safe return” and “I love you”.

A large poster with a photograph of Ms Bulley has also been attached to the railings.

Neighbour Charlotte Drake wrote this weekend that Paul's strength and resilience are "nothing short of a miracle".

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

Read more: Diving specialist insists Nicola Bulley 'can't be at sea' after distraught partner says 'local is responsible'

Ribbons with handwritten messages have been left at the site
Ribbons with handwritten messages have been left at the site. Picture: Alamy

She posted on social media: "The strength this man has shown over the past 14 days is nothing short of a miracle. 

"When many would be sat at home waiting for news he is using the media exactly as it should be used, to share the facts, highlight the lack of evidence and spread the word far and wide, so that he can hopefully reach someone that knows something."

"Backing Pauly Ansell all the way to bring Nicola Jane Bulley back to him and their beautiful girls.

"We are all behind you, from our little street."

Police divers and private specialists have scoured the river near where she was last seen, but there has been no trace of her, although her mobile phone and dog were found the same day..

On Friday her partner Paul Ansell said he is "100 per cent" sure that Nicola did not fall into the river, the original theory believed by police.

He also told Channel 5 that he still intends to marry Nicola.

Partner of missing mother Nicola Bulley appeals to public for more information

Paul Ansell said he still has plans to marry missing Nicola Bulley
Paul Ansell said he still has plans to marry missing Nicola Bulley. Picture: Alamy

Paul said: "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.

"And then obviously the whole covid thing hit which just, I mean, everybody's life was just thrown up into the air."

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.

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