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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Holly Evans

Nicola Bulley’s partner called NHS for help after mother-of-two suffered mental health ‘blip’

Nicola Bulley/Facebook

Nicola Bulley’s concerned family contacted emergency services to seek help for her increased alcohol use just days before she was reported missing, an inquest has heard.

Mental health clinician Theresa Lewis Leevy told Preston County Hall she had responded to a call made by Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell and her sister on January 10, and attended their home address alongside a police officer and a paramedic.

“We were greeted by Nicola’s partner and sister and shown to the living room where we had a conversation about increased alcohol use since Christmas time and a conversation about concerns for Nicola’s welfare,” she said.

Nicola Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell described her as an “incredible mother” to their two children
— (Nicola Bulley/Facebook)

During this meeting, Ms Bulley remained in her bedroom wearing leggings and appeared intoxicated. However, when asked if she had appeared depressed, Ms Leevy told the court: “No, not that I could ascertain at the time.”

Giving evidence, her sister Louise Cunningham said that Ms Bulley had been “absolutely fuming” that an ambulance had been called, with the event serving as a “realisation” and leading her to stop drinking alcohol.

At the time of her death on January 27, the 45-year-old mortgage adviser was not under the influence of alcohol, with toxicology reports showing only a therapeutic level of paracetamol and beta-blocker propranolol in her system.

Her General Practitioner, Dr Rebecca Gray, informed the inquest that Ms Bulley had been prescribed propranolol in February 2019 after presenting with symptoms of anxiety. Since July 2021, she had also been struggling with the menopause and had been given HRT medication.

However, she added: “There is nothing on the notes or records from 2012 where there’s been any mention of her feeling suicidal or of self harm.”

While she had suffered a “blip” over Christmas 2022, her partner 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.”

Her body was found a mile downstream from the bench where her phone had been discovered
— (Press Association Images)

He described her as “an incredible mother”, whose primary focus had been on her two daughters, aged six and nine, with her springer spaniel Willow acting as a “third child”.

Several members of Ms Bulley’s family became emotional during the second day of her inquest, which heard details of her medical history and her final interactions with loved ones.

Mr Ansell had become concerned for his wife’s whereabouts after she failed to return from a dog walk by 10am, despite having scheduled work calls for later that morning.

At 10.48am, he texted “Have you got lost?” only to be told minutes later that Willow had been found running loose, with Ms Bulley nowhere to be found.

He said that the couple had enjoyed a “normal morning” before she took the children to school, and that Ms Bulley had been delighted with her recent career progress.

A post-mortem gave her cause of death as drowning in the River Wyre
— (PA)

“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,” he said.

The mother-of-two was last seen alive at 9.10am while walking her dog along the River Wyre after dropping her children at their primary school. Yesterday, the inquest heard from several witnesses who saw Ms Bulley walking along the riverbank while on her mobile phone.

Shortly after 9.30am, a passer-by discovered her dog and her phone, which was still logged onto a Microsoft Teams work call.

After being contacted at 10.54am by their children’s school, Mr Ansell contacted 999 to report her disappearance, with Lancashire Constabulary launching a “high-risk” missing person’s investigation.

Her body was not discovered until February 19, just over a mile downstream from the bench where her mobile phone had been left.

A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as drowning, with a Home Office pathologist confirming that there was no evidence of third party involvement.

Her two-day inquest is due to conclude on Tuesday afternoon.

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