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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sami Quadri

Nicola Bulley's father breaks down as he pays tribute to daughter at inquest

Nicola Bulley’s father broke down in tears as he paid tribute to his daughter during an inquest into her death.

Ms Bulley, 45, went missing on January 27 while walking her dog after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school. Her phone - still on a work call - was found on a nearby bench.

After a high-profile search the mortgage adviser’s body was discovered a mile away in the River Wyre in St Michael’s, Lancashire, on February 19 - three weeks after she vanished.

At her inquest in Preston on Tuesday, her father Ernest Bulley wiped away tears as he paid tribute to his “lovely” daughter.

Mr Bulley said: “As a child she was lovely, a little ballerina, she always danced around in her tutu; she was great.”

He added: “She was a great daughter, sister and mother, we couldn’t ask for any more from her.”

Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell told the inquest that she had been “looking forward to the future” before her disappearance.

Nicola Bulley, 45, went missing on January 27 while walking her dog (PA)

Mr Ansell said: “The blip over the Christmas period happened but in January she was back to herself, looking forward to the future and everything was on the up.”

He went on: “She had a good day the day before (she went missing), came home full of beans, excited with work, with the meetings she had and plans for the year.”

Mr Ansell said he believes she went to put a harness on her dog shortly before falling into the River Wyre.

Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was still connected to a work Teams call when it was found on a bench overlooking the water.

Mr Ansell said: “She was still listening to that meeting, so I think she must have maybe put the phone on the bench and gone to put the harness back on Willow.”

On the day she went missing he sent her a text message saying: “Have you got lost?”

On Monday, at the inquest, senior coroner Dr James Adeley was told she died by drowning.

She had not been drinking and there was no sign of foul play.

Two women both recalled hearing a scream near the riverside that morning. One, Veronica Claesen, called it an “inhale scream” like a sharp intake of breath.

Professor Michael Tipton, a world-leading expert on the effects of falling into cold water, said a typical response to sudden immersion at 10C or below was to gasp and inhale one or two litres of water.

Commenting on the heavy outdoor clothing she was wearing on the day she went missing, he said: “It would only take one or two breaths to cross the lethal dose for drowning.”

He added that someone in that situation would have around 25 seconds before they lost consciousness, experiencing “very rapid incapacitation”.

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