Nicola Bulley’s loss of life was an accident, coroner guidelines


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Nicola Bulley drowned after unintentionally falling down a steep river financial institution into chilly water, a coroner dominated right this moment – as her companion stated he believes she was making an attempt to place a harness on their canine on the time.

The 45-year-old vanished after dropping off her daughters, six and 9, at college, and taking her regular canine stroll alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s, Lancashire, on January 27. 

Dr James Adeley recorded her loss of life as unintentional, saying she fell in and suffered ‘chilly water shock’. He stated there was ‘no proof as to why Nikki entered the water’ however stated there was no proof of suicide and he had been in a position to rule out foul play. 

Delivering his conclusions right this moment, he stated: ‘Whether or not or not Nikki’s first breath was above or beneath the water, she would have misplaced consciousness earlier than reaching the primary level within the River Wyre the place she may have touched the underside.’

Ms Bulley was final seen by a fellow canine walker in a area with the household canine, Willow, at 9.10am. 

Dr Adeley highlighted how Ms Bulley’s Fitbit – which was recovered from her physique, charged and synchronised – recorded a ‘considerably elevated coronary heart fee’ at 9.22am and stopped recording steps after 9.30am.

The senior coroner for Lancashire highlighted how police divers testified to the ‘nearly vertical’ river financial institution beneath the bench the place Ms Bulley’s telephone was discovered simply after 9.30am. She had adjusted the amount on her iPhone at 9.18am.

Ruling out third celebration involvement, Dr Adeley highlighted how not one of the villagers who have been within the area on the time had seen anybody suspicious within the instant space. He added that Ms Bulley had been performing usually earlier than her loss of life and – ‘other than some throwaway feedback’ – there was no indication she meant to take her personal life.

Mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, vanished while walking her dog in Lancashire on January 27. She is seen in  new photo released by the family today

Mom-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, vanished whereas strolling her canine in Lancashire on January 27. She is seen in  new photograph launched by the household right this moment 

Paul Ansell, Ms Bulley’s companion of 12 years, informed the inquest he believes she went to place a harness on her canine shortly earlier than falling into the river

Police by the river bank where Ms Bulley was last seen. Her mobile phone was found on this bench, alongside a dog harness

Police by the river financial institution the place Ms Bulley was final seen. Her cell phone was discovered on this bench, alongside a canine harness 

Giving proof earlier right this moment, Ms Bulley’s companion Paul Ansell stated he believes she was making an attempt to place a harness on their canine moments earlier than falling into the river. 

He stated this was to cease the canine getting caught in bushes, including: ‘Along with her being a springer, she’s very erratic.’

Dr Adeley stated he couldn’t say whether or not Mr Ansell’s perception that she had been making an attempt to place Willow in her harness was appropriate or if she had dropped it when ‘one thing occurred’.

However he stated screams heard by two villagers might be dominated out as being related as by the point they have been heard as a result of ‘Nikki was most likely already lifeless’.

Explaining why he had dominated out suicide, Dr Adeley identified that it might have been ‘extraordinarily uncommon’ for Ms Bulley to depart Willow – described by members of the family as like a ‘third baby’ – deliberately.

As well as, to have jumped into the river with the intention of ending her life would have required ample data of the velocity with which chilly water shock would have proved deadly, in any other case somebody may need saved her, he stated.

He continued: ‘Excluding a few feedback over the Christmas interval when she was performing out of character and have been handled as throw away feedback, there was no indication of any intention to take her personal life.

‘Her behaviour within the week earlier than hear loss of life was again to regular, she had restarted her HRT remedy, stopped consuming a while earlier than, was planning for play dates and spa days with a number of individuals, was turning into more and more profitable at her new profession as a mortgage dealer and behaved solely usually throughout her dad and mom go to of the evening earlier than and with Paul Ansell on the morning of her loss of life.

‘The circumstances discovered after her loss of life would even be extraordinarily uncommon for suicide the place Nikki left Willow, a canine to who she was devoted and was described as a 3rd baby, alone on the river financial institution.

‘Nikki would additionally needed to have had ample data of chilly water shock to understand as to how quickly a loss of life might happen as in any other case she could also be noticed and saved; that she selected to take action on the foremost intersection of paths the place she might be interrupted at any level could be uncommon and to depart her automotive keys in her pocket with the automotive within the college playground the place her kids, to whom she was devoted, would see it might be merciless.

‘For these and plenty of different causes I low cost a conclusion of suicide as there isn’t a proof to help this conclusion.

‘There was additionally no pure illness that contributed to Nikki’s loss of life. The remaining conclusion is that of unintentional loss of life.’ 

After the coroner returned his conclusion, Ms Bulley’s father Ernie gave her mom a short hug and kissed her on the cheek earlier than placing his arm round their different daughter, Louise Cunningham, because the household left the courtroom.

In a press release learn by their lawyer, Terry Wilcox, the household stated they nonetheless obtain ‘unfavourable focused messages’ on social media in regards to the case. 

‘We encourage individuals to take a look at the details, the proof which has been heard through the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner,’ the household stated. 

‘To disregard any novice views and opinions, and be conscious of the impression phrases convey. We now should be allowed time to understand the entire occasions main as much as today.

‘We ask that you simply all respect our privateness right now, to allow us to rebuild and take time to heal.’


Following the inquest conclusion, Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables, of Lancashire Constabulary, stated she hoped the coroner’s conclusion would put an finish to ‘ill-informed hypothesis and conspiracy theories’ round Ms Bulley’s loss of life. 

‘I wish to begin by saying that firstly my ideas right this moment are with Nikki’s household and family members,’ she stated. 

‘They’ve been by means of essentially the most unimaginable ordeal over the past six months, and I can solely hope that this inquest will assist in some small manner by answering a few of the questions that they had about what occurred to Nikki on January 27 and can enable them to begin the method of rebuilding their lives as greatest as they’ll.

‘It is upsetting that we have continued to obtain focused messages’: Bulley household assertion in full

‘The previous few months have been extraordinarily robust to course of for the household. The emotional impression will keep lengthy in our hearts and while we’ll by no means recover from the lack of our Nikki, we are going to endlessly keep in mind her because the sensible mum, companion, daughter and sister that all of us knew and beloved so very a lot. 

‘The assistance and help we now have obtained over these few months has meant greater than phrases can say. From household and buddies, to finish strangers throughout the nation and world, thanks. 

‘Nikki and Paul’s ladies have already taken nice consolation within the deeply considerate presents despatched to them in goodwill, and in time they are going to learn the various playing cards that are full of such kindness and love. Sadly, we really feel the necessity to once more increase and deal with the difficulty of social media.

‘It is upsetting that we have continued to obtain unfavourable focused messages and nonetheless witness wildly inaccurate hypothesis being shared over quite a few platforms.

‘We encourage individuals to take a look at the details, the proof which has been heard through the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the Coroner, to disregard any novice views and opinions, and be conscious of the impression phrases convey. 

‘We wish to formally say thanks for the help and compassion confirmed by Lancashire Constabulary, HM Coroner Dr Adeley, his workforce, Sophie Cartwright KC of Dean Court docket Chambers, and Terry Wilcox of Hudgell Solicitors.

‘Now we should be allowed time to understand the entire occasions main as much as today. We ask that you simply all respect our privateness right now, allow us to rebuild and take time to heal.’

‘I wish to thank Dr Adeley for his cautious consideration of the proof offered to this inquest in addition to authorized counsel and the entire witnesses for his or her participation.

‘I hope that HM Coroner’s clear and definitive findings will put an finish ill-informed hypothesis and conspiracy theories which have been so damaging to Nikki’s household, the neighborhood of St Michael’s.

‘I wish to end by bringing this again to Nikki. She was clearly a much-loved mum, companion, daughter, sister and good friend. and I’d as soon as once more specific my deepest sympathy to all her family members, and I’d ask that their privateness is revered right now to permit them the time and house to rebuild and to heal.’

Earlier right this moment, a lawyer representing the Bulley household had referred to as on the coroner to ship an unintentional loss of life verdict.  

Sophie Cartwright KC stated: ‘What occurred on the river financial institution shortly after 9.18am was a tragic accident.

‘There was a lot hearsay and suspicion and hypothesis round Nikki’s loss of life however the household are very clearly of the view and undergo you that that hearsay and hypothesis is allayed utterly when taking a look at all of the proof.’

She added the household imagine ‘Nikki’s loss of life would have occurred very shortly after she entered the water’ after her physique reacted in shock to the chilly water. 

This morning, Ms Bulley’s sister Louise Cunningham cried as she informed of her sibling’s struggles with the menopause and ‘elevated alcohol use’ within the months earlier than her loss of life.

Giving proof afterwards, Ms Bulley’s companion Paul  stated she had skilled a ‘blip’ in her psychological well being over Christmas however was higher by January. 

He added: ‘She had a superb day the day earlier than [she went missing], got here residence stuffed with beans, excited with work, with the conferences she had and plans for the yr.’

Ms Bulley’s mom, Dorothy, additionally noticed her on the night earlier than she went lacking and stated ‘the whole lot was regular’. 

Her father, Ernest, recalled how the household shared a ‘pretty night’ and stated the final phrases her daughter stated to him have been about her plans to ‘shut’ a enterprise deal. 

Earlier right this moment, the inquest heard extra details about Ms Bulley’s struggles along with her psychological well being. 

A disaster response automobile was despatched to her residence on January 10 after considerations have been raised about her alcohol consumption. 

A day later, she went to A&E to be checked up after a fall.  

Ms Cunningham stated her sister had been battling signs of the menopause over Christmas 2022. 

She informed the coroner:  ‘She mentioned having some signs with the HRT, it was again in the summertime of 2022.

‘She was having complications, she could not get the stability precisely proper, she talked about having struggles sleeping. She was taking lavender spray, natural tea, something that will calm down her earlier than mattress.’

Ms Bulley was last seen walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre near to St Michael's on Wyre

Ms Bulley was final seen strolling her canine on a footpath by the River Wyre close to to St Michael’s on Wyre

Ms Bulley stopped taking HRT over Christmas 2022 and introduced up at a household meal that she was ‘struggling’ once more with it, Ms Cunningham stated. 

She added: ‘She did have a little bit of a blip over the Christmas interval (of 2022) and are available January she was getting again to herself – again to HRT treatment, again to work and utterly again to regular Nikki.’

A disaster response automobile was despatched to Ms Bulley’s residence on January 10 after Ms Cunningham raised considerations about her escalating alcohol consumption since Christmas 2022 and never eager to ‘have interaction’ along with her two daughters.

She was in mattress when psychological well being clinician Theresa Lewis Leevy went upstairs to see her and clearly ‘intoxicated’, she informed the listening to.

‘She did not wish to have interaction in dialog,’ she stated. ‘The interplay it is honest to say was fairly temporary.’ 

The next day Ms Bulley was seen at A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after injuring the again of her head in a fall the earlier night, the inquest was informed.

A CT scan was carried out to her head however there was no signal of harm. The inquest has not but been informed at what stage it was sustained.

Ms Cunningham stated she had referred to as the ambulance on January 10 as a result of she was ‘involved’ and needed ‘peace of thoughts’.

She stated afterwards Ms Bulley was ‘completely fuming’ along with her for elevating considerations however described it as ‘a little bit of a wake-up name’ for her sister.

‘She was my sister, I used to be involved,’ she stated.

Ms Cunningham stated she did not recall her sister making feedback about ‘not eager to be right here’.

‘She’s by no means ever confided in me about any suicidal ideas or something like that in any respect.’

Ms Bulley's sister, Louise Cunningham, broke down as she told how her sibling had been struggling with the menopause and her 'increased alcohol use'

Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, broke down as she informed how her sibling had been battling the menopause and her ‘elevated alcohol use’

She stated after Christmas 2022 Ms Bulley stopped taking her HRT treatment because it ‘wasn’t doing an excellent deal’.

However after the psychological well being call-out she stated her sister resumed taking it, diminished her alcohol content material and centered again on her mortgage advisor job.

Ms Cunningham was requested by the coroner whether or not her sister would have intentionally deserted Willow beside the river had she been planning to hurt herself.

‘Completely not,’ she answered.

‘There is not any manner Nikki would go away Willow unattended by selection.’

Ms Cunningham stated she had been planning a spa day shortly earlier than he sister’s loss of life. 

‘I actually confirmed it was booked however she did not choose up the message,’ she stated right this moment. 

Earlier Ms Bulley’s GP, Dr Rebecca Grey, informed how in late 2022 she had been struggling to sleep and complaining that her mind felt ‘overloaded’.

She first noticed Ms Bulley for signs of tension in December 2018, prescribing antidepressants, however later moved her to beta blockers after experiencing tremors.

In July 2021 she started complaining of sizzling flushes and was identified with being post-menopause and commenced on HRT.

Dr Grey stated Ms Bulley had follow-up appointments to fluctuate her prescription because of side-effects.

However shortly earlier than Christmas she complained she was ‘struggling along with her sleep’ and ‘her mind felt prefer it was overloaded’.

She had by no means spoken of being suicidal or contemplating self-harm, she added.

Requested if she had ever expressed suicidal ideas, Mr Ansell stated she had made ‘a few throwaway feedback’ within the run-up to her disappearance, ‘however nothing that gave me concern’.

Staff from Specialist Group Worldwide, a personal underwater search and restoration firm, on the River Wyre on February 6

A police diving team at the River Wyre near St Michael's-on-Wyre in Lancashire on February 19

A police diving workforce on the River Wyre close to St Michael’s-on-Wyre in Lancashire on February 19 

Mr Ansell stated his companion had ‘at all times been a planner’, with the kitchen calendar continually up to date with all of the household’s upcoming actions, whereas he introduced ‘spontaneous nature’ to the connection.

He stated in his witness assertion: ‘Nikki was a quiet one who loved the easy aspect of life.

‘She was a really non-public individual and saved herself to herself.’

Mr Ansell turned tearful and was unable to proceed his proof after being requested whether or not she ‘adored’ nothing greater than strolling with Willow or her household.

Proceedings have been adjourned briefly so he may compose himself.

The barrister representing Ms Bulley’s household informed the coroner their perception was now that she had fallen into the water and drowned nearly instantly, asking him to report a conclusion of unintentional loss of life.

She added that her household drew consolation from their perception that her loss of life would have taken ‘seconds’, and stated that based mostly on the proof heard on the inquest the outlandish theories which have swirled round her disappearance may now be dismissed.

Sophie Cartwright KC, representing Mr Ansell, Ms Bulley’s dad and mom and her sister, stated that ‘what occurred on the riverbank shortly after 9.18am was a tragic accident for Nikki’.

She cited proof that Ms Bulley elevated the amount on her handset at that time.

What occurred subsequent ‘should ultimately be linked to the placement of the canine harness’, which was later discovered on the bottom between the bench and the river, she added.

Ms Cartwright stated the household agreed with proof given yesterday by specialists on drowning that Ms Bulley would have inhaled a deadly quantity of water on plunging unexpectedly into the icy river.

‘There was a lot hearsay and suspicion and hypothesis, notably taking into consideration the time it took earlier than Nikki’s physique was discovered and recognized,’ she stated.

However she stated the household have been ‘very clearly of the view’ that the proof heard on the inquest ‘utterly’ allays the suspicion which has swirled across the case since Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

As well as, they’re ‘comforted’ by the data that her loss of life would have occurred inside 30 seconds of slipping into the river, she stated.

Ms Bulley alongside her partner Paul Ansell

Ms Bulley alongside her companion Paul Ansell

Ms Bulley often shared photos of her outings with Willow on her Strava page, like this picture

Ms Bulley typically shared images of her outings with Willow on her Strava web page, like this image

Ms Cartwright stated the rivalry was supported by eye witness accounts, cell phone evaluation, the put up mortem and proof in regards to the treacherous state of the riverbank.

As well as, she had been in ‘good spirits’ that morning and planning for the remainder of the day and coming weekend.

She requested the coroner to formally dismiss the account of two villagers who reported listening to screams from the course of the river between 9.35am and 9.55am as ‘irrelevant’.

The primary day of the inquest yesterday heard how Ms Bulley’s canine, Willow, was discovered at a bench close to to a ‘cliff edge’ – making it nearly inconceivable for anybody who had fallen in to get out with out help.

Upon being informed in a name that her telephone and Willow have been found, her companion Paul Ansell stated: ‘She’s struggling, the inquest heard.

Retired care employee Susan Jones stated at round 10am on January 27 she was referred to as by Penny Fletcher who discovered Willow and the telephone.

She then bumped into Ms Fletcher’s daughter-in-law, referenced solely as Anne-Marie, who recognised Ms Bulley from the telephone’s lock display photograph.

Anne-Marie rang the native college in addition to talking to Mr Ansell – who had stated ‘she’s struggling’. The mortgage adviser’s physique was discovered greater than three weeks later and simply over a mile downstream.

As Mr Ansell, 44, and oldsters Dot and Ernie wiped away tears, a pathologist dominated out assault or foul play, saying she was alive when she entered the water.

Two witnesses informed the listening to they independently heard a short scream coming from in direction of the river across the time she was final seen.

However the inquest was informed a police timeline steered it was doubtless she was already within the water at that time.

Ms Bulley's phone, which was still on a work call, was found on a bench overlooking a 'cliff-edge drop' into the river

Ms Bulley’s telephone, which was nonetheless on a piece name, was discovered on a bench overlooking a ‘cliff-edge drop’ into the river 

Ms Bulley vanished after dropping her daughters, aged six and 9, in St Michael’s-on-Wyre, then taking her regular canine stroll.

Simply after 9.30am an area businesswoman discovered Willow ‘giddy’ and unfastened close to the river.

Her telephone, nonetheless linked to her morning Groups name, was discovered on a close-by bench. Lots of of volunteers joined a police search, however with no signal of her physique, novice sleuths took to social media to unfold outlandish theories.

Police confronted criticism after revealing she had been experiencing ‘vital points with alcohol’ introduced on by her battle with the menopause.

Her physique was discovered on February 19 and recognized by dental information.

On the inquest at County Corridor in Preston, police diver PC Matthew Thackray stated the riverbank on the level the place Ms Bulley is believed to have vanished had a steep ‘cliff edge’ into the ‘freezing’ water.

Senior coroner Dr James Adeley requested: ‘When you have been within the water making an attempt to get a foothold, would it not be doable?’ ‘Under no circumstances,’ he answered.

Professor Michael Tipton, an professional on the consequences of falling into chilly water, stated simply two breaths underwater within the river – which was simply 3.6C (38.5F) that day – would have been ‘the deadly dose for drowning’.

‘In my view, if Nikki fell into the water on the level we have seen, there’s an excellent probability the primary gasp would have occurred along with her head beneath the water,’ he stated.

Dr Patrick Morgan, medical director of HM Coastguard, informed the listening to even when she had managed to gasp air earlier than she went beneath, it was unlikely she may have held her breath for greater than ten seconds.

The coroner recorded a verdict of unintentional loss of life.  


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