Police identify critical two hours after Nicola Bulley disappearance

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Police are reportedly focusing on a critical two-hour gap between when missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley disappeared and when the incident was reported. Ms Bulley, 45, vanished at around 9.10am on January 27 while walking her dog along the River Wyre near the village of St Michael’s, Lancashire. But she was not identified as missing until 11am – two hours later.

Detectives from Lancashire Police have said their working hypothesis is that Ms Bulley fell into the river and drowned, but despite a meticulous search of the river, including using hi-tech sonar, there has been no trace of the missing mum.

Police have now moved their search to Morecambe Bay, where the river meets the sea – 20 miles from where Nicola was last seen.

Peter Faulding, whose expert search team Specialist Group International brought their world-class sonar equipment to the river, said it was “impossible” for her to have made it to the sea.

Police have identified three blindspots in the area she went missing, with police stating she may have left the area via a path that has not been covered by the cameras.

This path leads to Garstang Road, which runs the village and is not covered by CCTV. In a press conference Superintendent Sally Riley said police are trying to trace the dashcam footage of 700 drivers who passed along the route at the time of her disappearance.

There are only two exits from the area other than the river itself. One of these is covered by CCTV.

According to friends of Nicola, the CCTV covering the other exit near caravan site Rowanwater, which would have covered the fields to the south of where she was last seen, is not working.

However, after viewing other CCTV footage from the area police have said they are confident Ms Bulley did not leave the field via Rowanwater.

Another blindspot has been spotted in the form of a riverside path which leads from the Wyreside Farm Caravan Park, and on to the A586.

A camera, which did not cover the exit, but which was close to this path, is also understood to not have been working at the time.

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Boats have been spotted searching for Ms Bulley as the police’s search moves on towards the ocean.

According to Sky News officers from the force have confirmed they are focusing on the mouth of the river Wyre as finding Ms Bulley “in the open sea becomes more of a possibility”. The broadcaster said it understands specialist diving units have also been deployed to search parts of the 12-mile stretch of river from the bench where her phone and dog were found to the bay.

Lancashire Police said in a statement: “People may have seen less police activity today than previously in the area of the river above the weir but that is not because we have stepped down our searches, it is because the focus of the search has moved further downstream into the area of the river which becomes tidal and then out towards the sea.”

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