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Wales Online
Wales Online
Ryan Merrifield & Max Channon

Nicola Bulley search expert Peter Faulding explains exactly what he should have done differently

The independent forensic search and dive specialist brought in to hunt for missing mum Nicola Bulley has now explained exactly what he would have done differently if he had known about her health issues.

Peter Faulding, head of Specialist Group International (SGI), said his "usually trusted team and I were not passed this crucial information during our search, which would have changed search strategy" - despite being briefed each day. It comes after Lancashire Police said Nicola had "significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause".

Mr Faulding criticised the decision to release the sensitive information publicly, reports The Mirror. "From my point of view… this information should never have been made public this afternoon at all. It’s not fair," Mr Faulding said.

"If we were given that information on the search, she is a vulnerable 'misper', which is normal for me to get that information, and she’s had alcohol issues etcetera, I’m not going to tell you.

"If I’m told to keep quiet I keep it between us. Our whole approach to the media may have been different from day one. My thoughts are with the family and I feel bad that information has come out to the public," he added.

However, he said he and his team should have been told about Nicola's problems, to improve his chances of finding her. He told The Mirror: "I would normally be given that information to make my job easier and deploy the appropriate resources to do that search."

Mr Faulding explained that he had been working along the theory she had slipped into the water. Mr Faulding said if she'd drowned this way, her body would have been within 500 metres of the entry point due to the weak current and many shallows.

Mr Faulding was "adamant" Nicola could not have slipped in the river - and claims his three-day search proved that.

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However, he said a potentially suicidal "high risk" missing person, who is possibly intoxicated, would behave differently - and could have ended up in deeper, faster moving water.

And he said that had Nicola jumped, she'd likely have been swept out to sea. This is something he had previously said would be impossible if she slipped and fell.

He also said that Nicola's phone being left bench was possibly a red herring. He explained that a disoriented Nicola could have wandered further upstream and gone in there.

Explaining what he would have done differently if he had been privy to the same information as the police, he said: "We would have extended our search even further upstream. Just because you’ve got a phone there, that doesn’t mean you’ve got an entry point."

"They might jump in and swim and go 'oh no, I don’t want to do this'. So they start paddling and go downstream.

"If they drown, just fall in and drown, they tend to go straight down, they don’t drift. Unless it’s flood water and it wasn’t flood water on the day."

Peter Faulding (right) CEO and workers from private underwater search and recovery company, Specialist Group International, using a 18kHz side-scan sonar on the river in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire (PA)

"If they drown, just fall in and drown, they tend to go straight down, they don’t drift. Unless it’s flood water and it wasn’t flood water on the day."

Mr Faulding also said that if he knew was looking for a person "significant issues with alcohol", he and his team would be "looking for other evidence" as well. He said he would be "looking for things like whisky bottles".

He is now questioning if there is other information being withheld by the police. "Do they know something else again that they are not telling us?" he asked. "Is there another snippet of information here that actually we don’t know?"

However, he also renewed his offer to return and help conduct a land search - an offer he says police are yet to accept.

He said: "My offer is open to Lancashire Police but I’ve had no communication with Lancs Police since we left. Our phone has been quiet. I’m not ringing them because I don’t want to interfere but we have had no contact at all.

"We left the scene, that was job done. We did what we’d been tasked with," he added.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

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