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Ryan Merrifield & Aaron Morris

Nicola Bulley's Fitbit gave heartrate reading for eight days after drowning, inquest hears

Nicola Bulley's Fitbit wristwatch continued to give a heartrate output for eight days after she drowned, an inquest yesterday heard. The 45-year-old mum of two, who went missing on January 27, drowned in the River Wyre - with no evidence of 'third party' involvement the coroner's court was told.

Her phone was found on a bench overlooking the water, still connected to a work Teams meeting, while her dog, Willow, was discovered wandering nearby. Her body was recovered three weeks later on February 19, following a widespread search of St Michaels, Lancashire.

The Fitbit was still attached to Nicola's wrist when she was pulled from the water, and is believed to have lost power come February 4 - as no further data was obtained beyond that point. When it was placed on charge, it also displayed that date.

Read more: Nicola Bulley inquest starts to look into cause of death following her disappearance

The Mirror reports that the device recorded 4,548 steps between 8.00am and 9.30am on January 27, but no further movement was recorded after this point. DC Keith Greenhalgh told the inquest at Preston County Hall: "A possible explanation for Nicola’s Fitbit continuing to provide [heart rate] output sporadically until 4 February could be a result of the movement of water passing between the device and Nicola’s wrist.

"Testing on inanimate objects provided similar results when there was a movement in the water."

DC Greenhalgh also detailed how he believes that Nicola fell into the water between 9.18am and 9.30am - explaining that an analysis of her iPhone and Fitbit data suggests she 'very possibly' entered at precisely 9.22am on the day of her disappearance. Drowning experts told the hearing that entering cold water can cause a person to gasp, inhale water and drown within a matter of seconds.

Professor Michael Tipton, said that there would have been a 'fairly rapid incapacitation' after Nicola went into the river - which could have had a temperature as cold as 3C. The hearing also heard that it may have been just seconds before she started to lose consciousness.

Professor Tipton also explained that he agreed with Home Office pathologist Alison Armour, who concluded that Nicola had drowned following a post-mortem examination. The finding of water in the stomach and lungs is consistent with a 'gasp response' under water - with liquid entering the body's organs he said.

The inquest also heard that it may have been '20 to 30' seconds before Nicola lost consciousness completely. Prof Tipton explained that two breaths of water would have been a 'lethal dose' for someone of Nicola's size.

Cold water expert, Dr Patrick Morgan, added: "On the occasion that the individual has taken that initial gasp on the surface of the water and then gone below, the duration would be 10 seconds that you could hold your breath and very likely one or two seconds at best."

PC Matthew Thackray, who is a police underwater diver, said that the area in which Nicola is believed to have entered the water also has a steep slope - adding: "The river was 4C, so almost freezing, and if she fell in, the muscles would probably seize, making it difficult to swim properly."

Nicola's partner Paul Answell is set to give evidence today during the second day of her inquest at Preston County Hall.

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