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Chronicle Live
Antony Thrower & Aaron Morris

Paul Ansell's four-word message he sent partner Nicola Bulley on day of disappearance

Paul Ansell sobbed as he revealed a four-word message he sent to his partner, Nicola Bulley, the day that she disappeared. The mum of two was last seen January 27 this year, sparking a widespread manhunt of St Michael's in Lancashire, before her body was found in the River Wyre three weeks later.

An inquest into her death opened yesterday at Preston Count Hall, with experts, police officers and a Home Office pathologist explaining their findings. On the day she disappeared, Nicola was last seen walking her dog Willow near the River.

Her phone was later discovered on a bench overlooking the Wyre, still connected to a work Teams meeting - while Willow was running loose nearby. Continuing today's proceedings, Paul was teary eyed as he told the inquest he asked Nicola: "Have you got lost?" on the day of her disappearance, as she failed to return home.

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

The Mirror reports that he detailed: "When it got to 10.30am I started to feel a bit concerned."

Paul described Nicola as 'full of beans' in the days leading to her death, explaining in his statement: "Nikki was a quiet person who enjoyed the simple side of life. She was a very private person and kept herself to herself.

Paul Ansell (PA)

"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. 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.

"She was grateful for every day, she was an amazing mum and partner and this gave her huge security. She focused on the important things and did the right thing by everyone. She was well-respected by all who knew her. Everybody loved her."

Paul also shared his theory that Nikki had been putting a harness on their dog before she fell into the River Wyre. He went on: "She was still listening to that meeting, so I think she must have maybe put the phone on the bench and gone to put the harness back on Willow."

Yesterday, the court heard a complete timeline of the final hours before Nicola disappeared. One section of which, focused on the last text she ever received and sent - to and from her friend Lucy. The waitress had been texting Nicola to organise a playdate between their two daughters.

Lucy told the court: "I said my daughter would love to come and play."

At 8.59am, Nicola replied confirming a time - swiftly adding a smiley face emoji. She and Lucy were due to then meet up the following day. Lucy added: "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 conducted Nicola's post-mortem examination, said that the evidence of water in her lungs and stomach led her to the conclusion that her cause of fatality was drowning.

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