Underwater forensics expert brands police investigation into missing dog walker a ‘mess’
A leading underwater forensics expert has branded the police investigation into Nicola Bulley’s disappearance “a mess”.
The 45-year-old mother-of-two disappeared while on her regular dog walk in the quiet village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire on the morning of 27 January. Despite an extensive search, Ms Bulley has yet to be found.
Lancashire Police revealed on 3 February that their main working hypothesis was that Ms Bulley “fell” into the river and was not suspicious but rather a “tragic case of a missing person.”
But forensics expert Peter Faulding, like Ms Bulley’s family, disputes these claims, arguing investigators should have found some evidence by now considering how long they’ve been probing the water for clues.
Mr Faulding is a leading confined space rescue and forensic search specialist who has worked on high-profile missing persons and “no body” murder investigations, including the cases of serial killer Peter Tobin and a five year-old girl who was abducted and killed in 2012, April Jones.
“Normally when a person drowns, if they are left a number of days they don’t move very far”, Mr Faulding told GB News, noting that the Wyre is not a fast tidal river.
Sonar has been used to scan the waters, but Mr Faulding argues it is “pretty low-tech” and would be “unlikely” to find a body.
Mr Faulding believes the police hypothesis surrounding Ms Bulley’s disappearance is wrong.
“None of this rings right to me,” he said, “My belief is she’s not in the river at all.”
The expert said that the area where Ms Bulley’s phone and dog Willow were found was not sealed off and as a result, members of the public have been walking past the bench and potentially disturbing vital evidence, he argues.
“It should have been sealed off immediately as a potential crime scene,” Mr Faulding told MailOnline. “That area is critical. Critical forensics could have been found in that location.
“I don’t know how the police can say there’s no evidence of third-party involvement in this disappearance when they haven’t actually checked. I think this is a mess, really.”
Mr Faulding isn’t the only one who has doubts. Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, urged the public to “keep an open mind” in a social media post on Friday and said there’s “no evidence” the 45-year-old fell in the river.
The police theory includes a tennis ball that Ms Bulley may have been retrieving for her dog. However, close friend Emma White has dismissed suggestions the mother-of-two would have been carrying a tennis ball in the first place.
“Willow used to love a tennis ball, but it used to disturb the walk so they haven’t had the tennis ball since way into last year”, Ms White told Sky News on Saturday morning. “There was definitely no ball”, she added.
Lancashire Police has been contacted for comment. In a previous statement, the force stressed there was no evidence of foul play and warned against speculation.
A spokesperson said: “Based on all the work we have done so far, we are now as confident as we can be that Nicola has not left the field where she was last seen and our working hypothesis is that she has fallen into the river for some reason.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that there is anything suspicious about her disappearance or any third-party involvement in her going missing. Our investigation remains open and we will of course act on any new information which comes to light.
“We have done a huge amount of work both in terms of searches of the area as well as extensive enquiries which have been going on behind the scenes and based on that work we are as sure as we can be that Nicola has not left the area where she was last seen and that very sadly for some reason she has fallen into the water.
“This remains a missing person enquiry and we will continue to carry out searches and to do everything we can to find Nicola and provide her family and the community with the answers they desperately need.”
Anybody who has seen Nicola Bulley, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30. For immediate sightings, call 999.