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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jon Macpherson & Alice Peacock

Nicola Bulley's friend dispels 'abandoned house' rumours on River Wyre with key facts

A pal of Nicola Bulley is attempting to dispel rumours about a house by the River Wyre that people have wrongly labelled as "abandoned", to stop people trying to search it.

Mum-of-two Nicola vanished while walking her dog by the river in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, close to two weeks ago on January 27.

Her phone was found on a bench by the waterside and had recently connected to a work call. Her dog Willow was running loose.

Police launched an extensive search of the area and said their "main working hypothesis" was that she fell in a river but a body has not yet been found.

A group, who are believed to have travelled to Lancashire from the Liverpool area, tried to search a building by the river on Wednesday night for the missing mum-of-two. They were reportedly issued a dispersal order by police.

Following news of the group's actions, Nicola's friend, Heather Gibbons, shared four facts about the building, including that it is 'not abandoned' and 'has been searched' thoroughly by police.

Earlier this week Lancashire Police warned members of the public not to "take the law into their own hands".

The force said it "will not tolerate" people committing criminal offences by breaking into empty or derelict riverside properties to try to find the 45-year-old mortgage advisor.

Heather said the home is 'owned by a lovely family' who 'would do anything they can to help in the search for Nikki' and stressed that they have 'never refused entry to the police or told them they need a warrant to search'.

Her Facebook post read: "Lets talk about this 'abandoned house'. I'm a friend of Nikki's who has been involved every single day in this search.

"I want absolutely nothing more than to get her back home to her family. I can't actually express in words how desperately I want to know she is safe and to get her home to her girls and Paul.

A lifeboat sweeps the river Wyre multiple times where it meets the estuary of Morecambe Bay (Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

"Since day one when speaking with the press/media I have shared how incredibly thankful we are as friends and family for people who have turned out to help us in our search for Nikki, its meant the absolute world and it continues to do so. But this abandoned house, here are some facts that need to be known.

  • Its not abandoned. Its owned by a lovely family who have lived in this village for generations and would do anything they can to help in the search for Nikki.
  • It HAS been searched, inside and outside, from top to bottom by the police. I have clarified this with the family themselves and also with the police.
  • They have never refused entry to the police or told them they need a warrant to search.
  • Its not 'strange' that they were around when the police/rescue teams turned up, the police had knocked on their door and asked them to be around.

"Tonight multiple police units are out in St Michaels dealing with people trespassing, not only on this families land but also others. We are at the point where people coming to 'help' look for Nikki in this way is actually doing the complete opposite.

The search for missing mother-of-two Nicola has been going on for close to two weeks (Lancashire Constabulary / SWNS.C)

"You're taking police time and resources away from the investigation. You're letting speculation take away from the actual facts.

"We are at the point where this type of 'help' is making people who live in St Michaels feel unsafe. Please don't let this continue to happen."

In a press conference on Tuesday, Superintendent Sally Riley said: "We will not tolerate online abuse of anyone, including innocent witnesses, members of the family and friends, of local businesses, or of criminal damage or burglary. We will be taking a strong line on that, as you would expect."

Ms Riley also told reporters: "There are some properties along the riverside which are empty or derelict. Whilst it may be well-intentioned that people think that that could be a line of inquiry, I would ask them to desist from doing that.

"In some cases, it may be criminal if they are breaking in and causing damage or committing a burglary."

She said officers have searched derelict riverside properties with the permission of owners.

She added: "Because there is no criminal element yet identified, and we don't expect there to be in this inquiry, then we're not starting to go into houses because that's not where the inquiry is leading us."

Search teams from Lancashire Police and the Coastguard, including divers, are now focusing on the 10 miles or so of river downstream of the bench, where the River Wyre empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay.

Superintendent Riley described the search as “unprecedented”, with 40 detectives following 500 lines of inquiry, with thousands of pieces of information coming in from the public.

And officers were trying to trace dashcam footage from 700 drivers who went through the village on the morning Nicola disappeared.

But Supt Riley ruled out criminal or third-party involvement and on Tuesday reiterated the police’s belief that Nicola had fallen into the river, with her body still unrecovered and police treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.

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