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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kieren Williams

Nicola Bulley's father breaks down as he recalls them kissing and hugging 'for the last time'

Nicola Bulley’s dad broke down sobbing as he recalled kissing and hugging her “for the last time”.

Ernest and Dot Bulley were the last witnesses in the second day of the inquest into the 45-year-old mum’s death.

Taking place at County Hall, Preston, today marked the final day of the inquest that shed some light on the events leading up to the death the mortgage advisor in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

After dropping her kids off at school on January 27, Ms Bulley took the family dog Willow along the River Wyre, in St Michael’s on Wyre - as she always did.

However, shortly after 9.18am, the mum fell into the river and tragically died.

Parents Ernest and Dot were last to give evidence, after initially not having been listed.

Sat beside Ms Bulley’s sister Louise Cunningham, her mum cried as she recalled the last time she saw their daughter.

It was the night before she went missing and Ernest and Dot had been watching their grandchildren at Ms Bulley's home while she was in a Zoom meeting.

Dot said: “Before we went home we went to the front door and gave them all a kiss and a cuddle,”.

Ernie added: “We gave her a hug, as we always do with our children and with our grandchildren.”

Members of the public leave a message of hope tied to a bridge over the River Wyre, during the search for Nicola Bulley (PA)

He described giving Ms Bulley a kiss and a hug and as he began crying Dot added sadly: “For the last time.”

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

Throughout giving evidence, Ernie had to take several pauses to compose himself.

He said: “She put so much into passing those exams. It wasn’t easy bringing up a family and looking to combine the two together but we knew that she could do it.”

Following their evidence, the family’s barrister, Sophie Cartwright KC made submissions to the coroner regarding possible conclusions available to him.

Ms Bulley and sister Louise Cunningham (Sky)

Ms Cartwright told the coroner that the conclusion he should return is one of accidental death.

She argued the phone evidence, post mortem, expert evidence and eye-witness accounts all point to Ms Bulley's death being an accident.

She said: “What occurred on the riverbank at probably some time shortly after 9.18am was a tragic accident for Nikki.

“It is clear from the evidence that at 9.18am Nikki increased the volume on [the Zoom call] and it appears that what happened after that must somehow be linked to the location of the dog harness found on the steep part of the slope.

The inquest took place at County Hall, Preston, yesterday and today (James Maloney/Lancs Live)

“There has been much rumour, suspicion and speculation… the family are of the view that that has been allayed by the evidence.

“The family are comforted by the evidence that Nikki’s death would have been very soon after she entered the water.”

The barrister urged the coroner to find: “At approximately 9.30am Nicola Bulley, on the balance of probabilities, died in the river due to an accidental death.”

She also urged the coroner to consider that the screams heard are not connected to Ms Bulley's death and says “they do not have relevance to how Nikki came by her death".

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