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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Alice Peacock

Nicola Bulley police told about new ‘tatty red van’ lead seen on same day mum vanished

Police officers searching for missing mum Nicola Bulley could be attempting to track down a "tatty-looking" red van which was parked close to the spot she disappeared.

Mum-of-two Nicola Bulley vanished while walking her dog by the river in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, close to two weeks ago on January 27.

Her phone was found on a bench by the waterside and had recently connected to a work call. Her dog Willow was running loose.

Police launched an extensive search of the area and said their "main working hypothesis" was that she fell in a river but a body has not yet been found.

It has now emerged that a concerned resident spotted a suspicious-looking vehicle, believed to be a Renault, outside a barn in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.

The search for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has been moved to the coastline (Sky News)

The witness contacted the police to report a suspicious "red van" parked in the village close to where Bulley went missing.

The 55-year-old witness, who had not been named, told the Times they saw the "tatty red van in Hall Lane outside a barn".

“I didn’t think anything at the time, but when I saw Nicola had gone missing, I called 101 and spoke to an operator.

Nicola Bulley pictured enjoying birthday celebrations before her disappearance (Facebook)

“I contacted the police again on Friday and spoke to a police officer. It could have been a Renault van."

The St Michaels on Wyre resident said the vehicle was the "sort of van you can live in".

Ms Bulley had dropped her two daughters, aged six and nine, off at school and then gone on her usual dog walk alongside the river before she disappeared.

A second witness - who happens to work in in search and rescue in the south of the country - revealed to The Sun that they had seen a red van which "looked suspicious" at 9.40am that morning.

The man, who requested not to be named, said they had called the police three days after she was revealed missing when they realised that the vehicle "might be significant" in their inquiries.

"They thanked me and asked if I had any dashcam footage and told me they were taking my information seriously", he added.

Investigators searching around the Cartford Bridge on the River Wyre earlier this week (DAVE NELSON)

The search operation to find Nicola has now moved to the sea, with police seen on Thursday combing Morecambe Bay.

Two boats with specialist police teams have been seen in the sea, moving upstream searching either side of the River Wyre.

Officers have reportedly confirmed they're now concentrating on the mouth of the river, and believe that finding Ms Bulley "in the open sea becomes more of a possibility".

A Lancashire Police statement read: "Our investigation into the disappearance of Nicola Bulley is continuing and we continue to search areas of the River Wyre and surrounding area.

Paul Ansell speaks with investigators on the river Wyre (Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

"People may have seen less police activity today than previously in the area of the river above the weir but that is not because we have stepped down our searches, it is because the focus of the search has moved further downstream into the area of the river which becomes tidal and then out towards the sea."

Superintendent Sally Riley of the Lancashire Constabulary has urged the public this week to avoid "distressing" speculation about what might have happened to Ms Bulley.

"We would ask that people in the wider community, particularly on social media and online, do not speculate as to what may have happened to Nicola," she said.

Police have asked 700 drivers who passed along the route on the day of her disappearance to come forward with dashcam footage.

No statement has been released by the force regarding the red van.

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