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Nicola Bulley: Diving expert defends team’s involvement in search for missing mum of two | UK News

A diving expert who joined the search for missing Nicola Bulley has defended his involvement after a body was found near where she went missing.

The body – which is yet to be formally identified – was found about a mile from where the 45-year-old was last seen walking her dog beside the River Wyre in Lancashire on 27 January.

Peter Faulding and his team at Specialist Group International (SGI) joined the search on 6 February and spent three days scanning the riverbed with hi-tech equipment with no success.

And following Sunday’s discovery, Mr Faulding defended his team’s work, insisting: “We thoroughly search[ed] the riverbed and can categorically confirm that Nicola was not laying on the riverbed on the [three] days that we searched.

Read more:
Nicola Bulley timeline: How the search has unfolded
Nicola Bulley’s partner’s ‘agony’ after police searching for her recover body from river

“We did search the stretch of river where Nicola was found for four hours on our first day and then upstream past the weir on the subsequent two days.

“The police underwater search teams and land search teams were searching for three full weeks and were also unable to find Nicola.

“Unfortunately, it was a member of the public that made a grim discovery, unconfirmed as yet to be Nicola.”

In the statement, Mr Faulding said the body was found in the reeds at the side of the river “which was not part of our remit”.

He added: “A riverbank and wade search would be the only way to search this area and we were not involved or tasked with that search.

“The difference between these two search areas has caused a lot of confusion and unfair criticism towards myself and my team at Specialist Group International (SGI).

The diving expert added: “I did not volunteer my services, my equipment or my team for any limelight or publicity.

“I simply wanted to lend extra resources to help a family in despair and this was supported by Lancashire Police.

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How the police search unfolded

“However, there has been unprecedented media and public interest in this case and at every turn, I was asked for an update on my own search, which I provided with only best intentions.

“Support for my assistance and my actions have been overwhelmingly positive although I am aware of that some negativity has been towards myself and my team.”

SGI is a recognised underwater search team for several counties and has worked alongside Thames Valley police for years.

The SGI statement ended: “Sadly, for circumstances out of our control, and as hard as we try, sometimes we are unable to locate the missing person.”

Nicola Bulley: Police vow to bring missing mum home as they urge search teams to scour river bank for clothes | UK News

Police searching for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley have vowed to “bring her home” as they called on members of the public to keep a look out for sightings of her clothes.

Officers believe the 45-year-old “sadly” fell into the River Wyre while she was walking her dog last Friday morning.

Search teams from Lancashire Constabulary are continuing to trawl the waterway near St Michael’s.

They are being helped by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – with sniffer dogs, drones, and police helicopters also being used.

Read more:
A timeline of Ms Bulley’s movements in the hour before she vanished
Nicola’s partner ‘staying as strong as he can’
Missing woman’s friends hope for ‘lightbulb moment’

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‘We believe Nicola sadly fell into river’

Meanwhile, they have urged the public to look out along the river for the items of clothing that Ms Bulley was last seen wearing.

This includes an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.

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Retracing Nicola Bulley’s journey

Detectives are also analysing CCTV and dashcam videos, and members of the public with footage which could be useful have been urged to come forward.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Superintendent Sally Riley said there may have been an “issue with the dog that led her to the water’s edge, she puts her phone down to go and deal with the dog momentarily, and Nicola may have fallen in”.

Police have speculated that Nicola Bulley had an issue with her dog, Willow.
Police have speculated that Nicola Bulley had an issue with her dog, Willow.

However, Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell, 44, said he would “never lose hope” of finding her.

“We’re never, ever going to lose hope, of course we’re not, but it is as though she has vanished into thin air. It’s just insane,” he said.

The 44-year-old said his “whole focus is my two girls” and that he was “hoping to goodness” that people would come forward with new information.