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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Hannah Kane

Nicola Bulley's death ruled as tragic accident after mum drowned in river

Nicola Bulley drowned after falling into cold water a coroner has concluded.

Speaking at the County Hall in Preston, Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire recorded the mum's death as accidental after hearing two days of evidence.

The inquest heard that the mum, whose body was found on February 19 in the River Wyre after she went missing on January 27, died from drowning.

The 45-year-old was last seen walking her family dog Willow along the River Wyre, and a desperate manhunt was launched which captured the attention of the nation.

For weeks, police and emergency services searched for the missing mum until they finally found her body a few weeks later.

She had tragically fallen into the water and died.

Three weeks after she disappeared, her body was found on February 19.

Dr Adeley said it likely that Nicola entered the water at 9.22am when her Fitbit recorded a significant spike in her heart rate. He is unable to determine exactly why Nicola entered the water.

He added "there is an absence of any evidence" that Nicola intended to take her own life, after her GP told proceedings she was showing no signs of being suicidal prior to her disappearance.

He said: “Excluding a couple of comments over the Christmas period when she was acting out of character and were treated as throw away comments, there was no indication of any intention to take her own life.

“Her behaviour in the week before hear death was back to normal, she had restarted her HRT therapy, stopped drinking some time before, was making plans for play dates and spa days with several people, was becoming increasingly successful at her new career as a mortgage broker and behaved entirely normally during her parents visit of the night before and with Paul Ansell on the morning of her death.

“The circumstances found after her death would also be extremely unusual for suicide where Nikki left Willow, a dog to who she was devoted and was described as a third child, alone on the river bank.

Dr Adeley is unable to determine exactly why Nicola entered the water (PA)

“Nikki would also had to have had sufficient knowledge of cold water shock to realise as to how rapidly a death may occur as otherwise she may be spotted and saved;.

"That she chose to do so at the main intersection of paths where she could be interrupted at any point would be unusual and to leave her car keys in her pocket with the car in the school playground where her children, to whom she was devoted, would see it would be cruel.

“For these and many other reasons I discount a conclusion of suicide as there is no evidence to support this conclusion.

“There was also no natural disease that contributed to Nikki’s death. The remaining conclusion is that of accidental death."

In the water, he moved down the river from the bench where Ms Bulley’s phone was last seen, to where her body was found.

Her FitBit watch was still showing signs of an active heartbeat for eight days after she went missing, which is believed to have been the movement of the water between the watch and her wrist.

During the first day of the inquest yesterday, footage was shown of PC Matthew Thackray filming on his bodycam.

The inquest heard from family members including Nicola's tearful partner Paul Ansell and her parents, as well as police and medical professionals.

Nicola's GP, Dr Rebecca Gray, told proceedings that there was "nothing" in her records suggesting she was suicidal.

Dr Gray, told the hearing at County Hall, Preston: "There is nothing on the notes or records from 2012 where there's been any mention of her feeling suicidal or of self-harm."

Nicola's sister Louise said she had called for some assistance with her sister before her death (Sky)

Nicola had spoken to the doctor about feeling a "low mood and anxiety" since 2018, later telling of headaches, fatigue and lack of sleep.

Also speaking at the hearing was mental health clinician Teresa Lewis Leevy.

She said two weeks before Nicola went missing, her sister Louise Cunningham had called the mental health team and “asked for some assistance with her sister”.

The family was concerned with her increased alcohol use and the impression she “didn’t want to be here”, reports LancsLive.

Proceedings have also heard from Ms Cunningham who explained there had been a “blip” in her sister’s mental state in the month before her death.

She added: “She had a blip over Christmas but she was back on the HRT medication in January and back to work and back to the normal Nikki.”

The search for Nicola spanned three weeks (PA)

Speaking at the inquest on the second day, partner Paul sobbed as he recalled on the day she vanished he sent her a text message, simply asking: "Have you got lost?"

He added: “When it got to 10.30am I started to feel a bit concerned.”

Paul also explained Nicola had been "full of beans" in the days leading to her death and was excited by her work having had a successful meeting the day before.

Nicola's mother, Dot Bulley cried as she recalled the last time she saw her daughter.

The night before she went missing Mr and Mrs Bulley had been watching the girls at Nicola’s home while she was in a Zoom meeting.

“Before we went home we went to the front door and gave them all a kiss and a cuddle,” she said. Ernest Bulley added: “We gave her a hug, as we always do with our children and with our grandchildren.”

He described giving Nikki a kiss and a hug. As he starts to cry Mrs Bulley added: “For the last time.”

Mr Bulley said as a little girl Nikki was “always dancing around in her tutu” and as a teenager “she wasn’t any trouble”.

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