Family and friends refuse to accept “theories for conclusions” as the search continues

A friend of Nicola Bulley said loved ones “can’t take a theory as a conclusion” as the search for the Lancashire mother of two enters its third week.

Police favor a theory that Mrs Bulley fell into the River Wyre while walking her dog Willow on 27 January, and her body has not been found as it swept towards Morecambe Bay.

The force continued to search the river towards the sea at Morecambe Bay on Saturday. Their search was assisted by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, using sniffer dogs, drones and police helicopters.

But Heather Gibbons told Times Radio that the police theory is just “a theory because there’s nothing there, there’s no concrete evidence for it at all.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we can’t take a theory as a conclusion for Nikki. We cannot accept that for Nikki or for the family,” she said.

Ms Gibbons said her head has been spinning since her friend disappeared from the village of St Michael’s on Wyre 16 days ago.

“You look at the facts: Nikki is a strong swimmer. She often takes that walk. She generally doesn’t go near the river on that walk,” she told Times Radio.

Ms Gibbons said police “did not have the blinders on” and “made it clear that all routes are still open”.

She described Mrs Bulley, 45, as “one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet”, who had brought bags of toys and clothes for a Ukrainian family staying with Mrs Gibbons.

Friends and family are desperate for more answers. They issued a new appeal to drivers on Friday for any dashcam footage of the area on the day the mortgage advisor went missing.

About 30 lined the road holding signs with her picture.

Friends of Nicola Bulley gathered again for a roadside call (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Wire)

Friends of Nicola Bulley gathered again for a roadside call (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Wire)

Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, said on Friday night that he is 100 per cent convinced she did not fall into the river.

“People don’t just disappear into the air, that’s absolutely impossible. So something happened,” he told Channel 5’s Dan Walker.

“My plea now, personally, is that I want to scrutinize every house, every garage, every outbuilding, the land. I want everything searched. I want everything scrutinized, every part of it.”

He and Mrs Bulley have two daughters aged nine and six.

Police have requested video from a car garage covering one of the main exits from the fields where she went missing.

According to The Times, officers wanted footage from Thursday, January 26, which expanded the camera network beyond the day of her disappearance.

Mrs Bulley disappeared shortly after dropping her daughters off at school.

The mortgage broker’s phone was found on a bench overlooking the river, still connected to a work call.

Mr Ansell has described MsBulley as “fun”, “loving”, “the most loyal friend you could ever have” and an “exceptional mother” who “absolutely adores our girls”.

“She’s just a pillar of support for our family and without her the gap is bigger than you can imagine,” he told 5 News.

Nicola Bulley and Paul Ansell (Paul Ansell)

Nicola Bulley and Paul Ansell (Paul Ansell)

Mr Ansell said that although the family is going through “unprecedented hell”, the hope that his partner will be found is “stronger than ever”.

Police have ruled out foul play and are treating the incident as a missing persons investigation.

On Thursday, the focus of their search shifted from St Michael’s to about 10 miles downstream where the river flows into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with patrol and rescue boats in the area.

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