‘This should have been done straight away’
A friend of Nicola Bulley has urged police to search an abandoned house close to where the mum-of-two went missing almost two weeks ago.
The news comes as the specialist group drafted in by Lancashire Police on Monday to help trawl the River Wyre for the 45-year-old pulled out of the operation on Wednesday night, suggesting the mortgage broker is not where police think she is.
Nicola was last seen walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre at 9.10am on 27 January, having earlier dropped her daughters, aged six and nine, at school. Her phone, still connected to a work call, and the dogs lead and harness were found a short time later. Police are yet to account for a missing 10-minute period but their “main working hypothesis” is that she accidentally fell in the river.
Nicola’s friend, Tilly Ann, has urged police to search a house and surrounding outbuildings a short distance from the river.
According to a report by Metro, police confirmed on Wednesday that they had searched a “derelict house” nearby but it is unclear if it is the same one.
The Mirror on Thursday reported that police had reportedly stopped a group of men from going to search an abandoned house in the hunt for Nicola.
The group, who are believed to have travelled to Lancashire from the Liverpool area, were apparently issued a dispersal order on Wednesday night.
Lancashire Police on Tuesday warned the public not to “take the law into their own hands” nor direct online abuse at people connected to the investigation.
Lancashire Constabulary said it “will not tolerate” people committing criminal offences by breaking into empty or derelict riverside properties to try to find Nicola.
Speaking from the scene on Wednesday evening, TalkTV’s Oliver Whitfield-Miocic revealed police had issued the dispersal order and noted: “All of this despite the police already having searched that area and, only 24 hours ago, the Superintendent in charge of this investigation asking people not to take the law into their own hands.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Superintendent Sally Riley said that police had searched derelict riverside properties with the permission of owners.
“Because there is no criminal element yet identified, and we don’t expect there to be in this inquiry, then we’re not starting to go into houses because that’s not where the inquiry is leading us,” she added.
Riley urged the public to avoid “distressing” speculation about what might have happened to Nicola as it is “particularly hurtful to her family, to her children, to her partner Paul, to her parents, her sister and her friends because it is not helpful to them, it is distressing and it is distracting for the police inquiry”.
Reid added that it was not “helpful if people, particularly if they have come from outside of the area, take it upon themselves to take the law into their own hands by trying to, for example, break into empty property.”
“They may mean well, they may want to help. But they can help in thinking back if they were in the area to what information they may have of relevance to the police and holding the family in their thoughts,” she said.
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