Nicola Bulley: Lancashire Police find a body in the River Wyre
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A search expert has been forced to defend “unfair criticism” which has surfaced after the discovery of a body near to where mother-of-two Nicola Bulley vanished. The head of Specialist Group International (SGI) Peter Faulding hit back at the comments in a lengthy statement outlining his team’s strenuous efforts in their search for the 45-year-old mortgage advisor after she vanished on January 27 near the River Wyre in Lancashire.
Mr Faulding, who was hired by Bulley’s family 10 days after she disappeared, stated: “Although identification has not been formally confirmed I would like to say my thoughts are with the family and friends of Nicola Bulley at this very difficult time.
“The SGI underwater search team was tasked with searching the river upsteam of weir in the non tidal part of the river, past the bench where Nicola’s phone was found and a mile upstream past this point.
“For three days, using high frequency side scan sonar, we thoroughly search the riverbed and can categorically confirm that Nicola was not laying on the riverbed on the days that we searched.”
He added: “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.”
He added the unidentified body was found in reeds at the side of the river, which was not part of their search remit and would be undetectable with the high frequency side scan sonar used.
Mr Faulding 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).”
He concluded: “My previous comments saying that if Nicola was in the river, I would find her, still stand. My team and I at SGI did all we could to assist this family with only our best intentions. I am sure I can say this of everyone who has been involved in this difficult search.
“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. 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 the recognised underwater search team for Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and Thames Valley police who we have worked closely alongside for many years. Unfortunately there are few police underwater search teams left.
“Each year we locate and recover many unfortunate victims and bring them back to their families. Sadly, for circumstances out of our control, and as hard as we try, sometimes we are unable to locate the missing person.”
The search expert received plenty of comments supporting his decision to speak out. One social media user commented: “Well done for giving an update. Silence would have been received with more criticism! Do not feed any further negativity!”
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Another added: “Your team did an amazing job. People who are saying this horrible stuff try to ignore them. They have nothing better to do with their time” A third wrote: “Your team is all amazing in what you do. You gave your time and expertise to help in this search for Nicola. Listen to all the positive and kind comments, they certainly out way the negative.”
Meanwhile, another Facebook user commented: “Shouldn’t be any negativity for what you did. You did everything you could. Sadly there will always be people who have nothing nice to say.”
Another wrote their support for the SGI team’s search for Bulley: “Thank you for all your efforts in this challenging incident. Most people have no idea what is involved.The hours and conditions involved. You did an incredible job.”
Another added: “Your team did all you could possibly do. There have been so many negative and unwanted comments regarding this case. You did an amazing job and you did all you could do. Thanks for all your help.”
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