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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kieren Williams

Nicola Bulley's heartbreaking last text before she went missing is read out at inquest

The last text that Nicola Bulley sent before she went missing was read out during the first day of an inquest into her death.

The 45-year-old was last seen walking her family dog Willow along the River Wyre on January 27.

But after she went missing, a desperate manhunt was launched which captured the attention of the nation.

For weeks, police and emergency services searched for the missing mum until they finally found her body a few weeks later.

She had tragically fallen into the water and died.

The inquest into her death opened yesterday, and heard from experts, police officers and a Home Office pathologist who revealed how the mum died.

Ms Bulley had been out walking her family's dog at the time (PA)

The court heard a complete timeline of the final hours before Ms Bulley vanished.

One section of evidence focused on the last text she received, and sent, from and to her friend Lucy.

The waitress had been texting Nicola to arrange a playdate between their two daughters.

Nicola had texted Lucy the night before she went missing but Lucy only saw the text on the Friday morning, the court heard.

The bench where Ms Bulley's phone was found, on the banks of the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre (PA)

Lucy replied at 8.13am. She told the court: "I said my daughter would love to come and play." At 8.59am Nicola replied confirming a time and included a smiley face emoji. Lucy and Nicola were also due to meet up the following day.

She said: “We were going to be meeting up, a group of mums, on the Saturday night for a few drinks.”

Home Office pathologist Alison Armour, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Ms Bulley, said the evidence of water in her lungs and stomach led her to conclude the cause of death was drowning.

The coroner asked Ms Armour to sum up her findings and conclusion.

The location on the River Wyre near St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, where police recovered the mum's body (PA)

She said: "I conclude the cause of death as drowning. The lungs themselves showed classical features we see in drownings.

"In my opinion Nicola Bulley was alive when she entered the water."

Ms Armour said the presence of water in the lungs showed swallowing the liquid was an "active process" and therefore suggests Ms Bulley was alive at the time she went into the river.

There were no brain bleeds or natural diseases and only normal therapeutic levels of medication in Ms Bulley's body, she added.

Police activity outside County Hall in Preston, Lancashire, on the first day of the inquest into the death of Ms Bulley (PA)

A low level of alcohol was consistent with the natural process of decomposition, the inquest heard.

Professor Michael Tipton, a world expert in drowning, said he agreed with the pathologist's findings.

A police underwater search specialist said he believes Ms Bulley fell into the River Wyre before floating downstream.

A video of PC Matthew Thackray in St Michael's on Wyre in Lancashire, where Ms Bulley is believed to have fallen in, was shown to the court yesterday.

In it he said: "There is a large vertical slope from the bench and into the water.

"On the day there was a steady flow downstream."

He went on: "The river was 4C, so almost freezing, and if she fell in the muscles would probably seize making it difficult to swim properly."

He estimated she would have floated at a "metre a second" downstream.

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