Nicola Bulley: Police searching for missing Lancashire mum identify witness in red coat


etectives investigating the disappearance of a mum-of-two in Lancashire have found a woman in a red coat they believe could be a key witness.

Nicola Bulley, a 45-year-old mother of two young girls, vanished while walking her spaniel, Willow, by a river in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, about 9.15am on Friday.

Lancashire Police is carrying out an extensive search, and on Thursday released an image of a dog walker in a red coat, who they stress is sought “as a witness and nothing more”.

In an update later they said the potential witness had been identified.

The development comes as her heartbroken family described feeling “stuck in a nightmare” since her disappearance which thet say is totally out of character, adding: “People don’t just vanish into thin air.”

In an interview with ITV, Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, said: “It feels like I’m stuck in a nightmare. We’re going round in circles to piece together what happened.

Lancashire Police

“We’ve got to keep an open mind. We have no idea where she is. There’s no evidence to point us in any direction.

“My hope is that she’s still out there. We just want her home. Her children need her home.

“Somebody must know something – people don’t just vanish. If there’s anything you might have seen, please get in touch with the police.”

Her father, Ernest, 73, added: “Ernie said: “It’s been very difficult, it’s been so painful. We’re a close knit family. We talk to our children every day.

“This has emptied our lives. There’s two young children that want their mummy back. If Nicola is out there, just come home – contact the police or ourselves.


“She’s done this route 1,000 times. She parks her car every day and walks the dog through the field. It’s just routine. We are baffled by it.”

Lancashire Police say there is currently “nothing to suggest any third party involvement” in Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

A spokesperson said on Thursday: “We would now like to speak to the woman pictured on the CCTV image, who we believe was in the area at the time Nicola was last seen and who may have information that could help us. We would stress that the woman is sought as a witness and nothing more.”

The woman is described as wearing a red and white coat with a fur hood, light-coloured trousers and a light bobble hat. She was walking a small, white dog.

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

Police have also established a timeline of events from the morning Ms Bulley was last seen.

Nicola Bulley, 45, from Inskip, Lancashire, was last seen on the morning of Friday January 27, when she was spotted walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre (Lancashire Police/PA)

They know the mortgage adviser dropped her children off at school, before walking along a path by the River Wyre in St Michael’s with her dog at around 8.43am. The area she was walking in was around three miles from her home, in the village of Inskip.

At approximately 8.50am, a dog walker who knows Ms Bulley saw her walking around a lower field with her dog.

Ms Bulley then sent an email to her boss at 8.53am, before logging into a Microsoft Teams call around 9.01am.

At about 9.10am, another person who knows Ms Bulley saw her on an upper field walking with her dog.

Ms Bulley’s Teams call ended at 9.30am, but she remained logged on.

Around 9.35am, her mobile phone and Willow, who was in an “agitated state”, were found at a bench by the river by another dog walker.

Ms Bulley’s partner of 12 years, Paul Ansell, has told how her daughters burst into tears when he tried to gently tell them that “mummy is lost”.

A police spokesperson said on Thursday: “We continue to have specialist resources from both the police and other emergency services in the area searching a significant area of land around the river off Garstang Road.


“We also have divers in the area and are using underwater drones to search the full length of the River Wyre downstream. Our police dogs have also been out searching.

“We are really grateful to everyone who has come forward with information so far and would continue to ask people to get in touch if they have information or concerns.”

Supt 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’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.”

Nicola is white, 5ft 3ins tall, with light brown shoulder-length hair. She speaks with an Essex accent. She was last seen wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive-green ankle wellies. Her hair was tied into a ponytail.

Anybody who has seen Nicola, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30th. For immediate sightings please call 999.

Police urge anyone who recognises the woman in the red coat to also get in touch.

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