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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Amy Fenton & Paul Britton

Nicola Bulley's death was an accident, coroner rules after inquest

The tragic death of mum-of-two Nicola Bulley was an accident, a coroner ruled today after an inquest into her death.

The coroner, Dr James Adeley, said there was an 'absence of any evidence' in terms of suicide and 'no evidence to support this conclusion'.

He said it was likely that Ms Bulley entered the water of the River Wyre in Lancashire at 9.22am on January 27 when her FitBit, which was recovered with her body, recorded a significant spike in her heart rate.

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But he said he was unable to determine exactly why she entered the water.

The coroner said he found that 'on January 27 at around 9.22am Nicola Jane Bulley fell into the River Wyre and died almost immediately'.

Dr Adeley said there was no sign of natural causes - and the only remaining conclusion was accidental death, a conclusion he recorded. He said the evidence ruled out any third-party involvement.

He said all of the witnesses did not note anyone suspicious in the area of the field where Ms Bulley was walking. Det Supt Rebecca Smith said CCTV from three of the four entry points to the field showed nobody acting unusually, added the coroner.

CCTV from the fourth point only showed one direction, but this also showed nobody, Dr Adeley said. Police contacted the owners of 700 cars which passed the road nearby and examined dashcam footage, but nothing unusual was spotted either, he said.

A pathologist also said there was no evidence she was assaulted, nor that a third-party was involved

Summing up, Dr Adeley said the inquest was not dealing with the operational response of the police to Ms Bulley's disappearance.

Ms Bulley with her dog, Willow (PA)

Ms Bulley disappeared after dropping off her daughters, six and nine, at school, and taking her usual dog walk along the river in the village of St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.

Her mobile phone, still connected to a work Teams call, was found on a bench overlooking the water, and her springer spaniel dog, Willow, running loose.

Her disappearance sparked a huge police search until her body was found in the river about a mile from the bench on February 19.

A cause of death was given as drowning and a pathologist said she believed Ms Bulley was alive when she entered the water.

The investigation into 45 year-old mortgage adviser Ms Bulley's disappearance attracted widespread attention and speculation, which led police to take action against social media influencers and people 'playing private detectives' who visited the picturesque Lancashire village.

Her body was found in the river 23 days after she went missing, around a mile farther downstream from the bench. Willow was found wandering close to the riverbank after her disappearance.

Lancashire Constabulary also faced criticism at the time for releasing personal details about the missing mum at the time.

The family's barrister, Sophie Cartwright KC, said earlier before the coroner returned his conclusion: "What happened on the river bank shortly after 9.18am was a tragic accident.

"There has been much rumour and suspicion and speculation around Nikki's death but the family are very clearly of the view and submit to you that that rumour and speculation is allayed completely when looking at all the evidence. Nikki’s death would have occurred very shortly after she entered the water."

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