Cops recruit Nicola Bulley 'expert' diver to assist in search for boy Xielo Maruziva, 2, who fell into River Soar

26 February 2024, 18:35 | Updated: 26 February 2024, 18:44

Police have recruited the diver who helped assist the search for Nicola Bulley.
Police have recruited the diver who helped assist the search for Nicola Bulley. Picture: Alamy/Leicestershire Police

By Jenny Medlicott

Police have called in a diving expert who assisted the search for Nicola Bulley last year to help locate a missing two-year-old.

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Xielo Maruziva went missing after he fell into the River Soar in Aylestone, Leicestershire on 18 February while he was out with family.

More than a week since he fell into the water, police have now recruited Peter Faulding, who helped in the search for Nicola Bulley after she went missing last year, to assist in the search for Xielo.

Faulding, 61, said he had previously offered to help Leicestershire Police with the search for Xielo but had been “ignored”.

Xielo’s grandmother, Kayela Smith, said Peter and his team at Special Group International (SGI) had offered to work for free to help with the search, but police “refused” the offer, The Sun reports.

Police revealed on Monday they would now be allowing the group to help with the search.

Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said: "We continue to be grateful to the support we've been shown by the public and colleagues from other forces and agencies.

“We're in regular contact with Xielo's family and are continuing to support them in what remains a very upsetting time.

Xielo Maruziva fell into the River Soar over a week ago.
Xielo Maruziva fell into the River Soar over a week ago. Picture: Leicestershire Police

"Our search operation to locate Xielo continues to widen as we know he may have travelled further from where he went into the water – and potentially outside our force area.

"I would like to reassure you that our operation is continuing and our teams will be carrying out co-ordinated searches at various points along the river.

"Our decision to involve SGI in the search in liaison with Xielo's family and having spoken to both the company and independent specialists.

"I'd also like to remind the public that the river is dangerous and that they should not go into the water themselves. Thank you."

The force also said it has since widened the search parameter for missing Xielo, and that they focused their search on the stretch of river around Watermead Park and Birstall over the weekend.

Peter Faulding, the CEO of the Specialist Group International (SGI), offered to help the search for free.
Peter Faulding, the CEO of the Specialist Group International (SGI), offered to help the search for free. Picture: Alamy

Mr Faulding said of the news on Sunday: “The family pleaded with me to help them search.

"I said I'd do it free of charge - my team is ready to roll straight away.

"We've got the best equipment in the world, and I've got an untarnished reputation for finding 10 drowning victims per year.

"We're not some amateur team. But we've been ignored by the police.

"We've put constant requests in to help find Xielo since Wednesday - but we've heard nothing back. Or, they've said they've got enough resources.

"This isn't about police hatred - it's about finding a two-year-old boy, the same age as my own grandson."

Mr Faulding previously claimed he found missing mother Nicola Bulley “after just six minutes of searching” when his team joined the operation last year.

However, a review into the police handling of Ms Bulley’s disappearance late last year found that he created “challenges” in the search operation.

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