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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matt Drake

Nicola Bulley’s family hit out at social media speculation as death ruled accidental

Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Nicola Bulley's family have slammed the "wildly inaccurate speculation" online over her death after an inquest found no evidence of third-party involvement.

A two-day hearing into 45-year-old mortgage adviser's accidental death has found there was nothing to suggest she was assaulted or harmed after she disappeared on 27 January.

Speaking after the coroner’s verdict on Tuesday, the family urged the public “to look at the facts the evidence that has been heard during the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner and to ignore any amateur views and opinions and be mindful of the impact words bring”.

Nicola Bulley went missing on January 27 after taking her dog for a walk
— (PA Media)

Reading a statement on behalf of her loved ones outside the County Hall, Terry Wilcox of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The last few months have been extremely tough to process for our family. Sadly, we feel the need to again raise and address the issue of social media.

“It’s upsetting that we’ve continued to receive negative targeted messages and still wildly inaccurate speculation being shared on numerous platforms.”

Before her disappearance, Ms Bulley had dropped her two daughters, aged six and nine, at school before taking her springer spaniel Willow for a walk along the river in St Michael’s on Wyre.

After a weeks-long police search that attracted widespread media coverage and public interest, her body was discovered in the water by a passer-by on February 19, just over a mile from where she was last seen.

Ms Bulley’s disappearance sparked a huge police operation to find her
— (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

During the inquest at Preston County Hall on Tuesday, Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour said there was no evidence of any third-party involvement adding she had suffered “cold water shock”.

The family’s statement comes after they said they had been subjected to "negative targeted messages" on a number of platforms in the months after her death.

Her phone was found on a bench overlooking the water, leading to speculation about what happened to her on the river bank
— (PA Wire)

The speculation wasn't just confined to the web as the police were forced to ban amateur sleuths from the area in the weeks following her disappearance. At one point, a group of men who travelled 50 miles from Liverpool to the village where Ms Bulley disappeared were given a dispersal order.

The Independent's Ben Bryant previously reported on the armchair sleuths who had speculated wildly during the search on what happened to the missing mother, with the more absurd claims including that she had been ‘abducted by a UFO’.

On Tuesday, Lancashire Constabulary’s head of crime Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables said: “I hope that His Majesty’s Coroner’s clear and definitive findings will put an end to ill-informed speculation and conspiracy theories which have been so damaging to Nikki’s family and the community of St Michael’s."

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