Mother-of-two An inquest has determined that Nicola Bulley accidentally fell into frigid water and drowned.
On January 27, Ms. Bulley, 45, disappeared after having her regular dog walk along the River Wyre in St. Michael’s, Lancashire, and dropping off her daughters, ages six and nine, at school.
At the conclusion of the inquest into her death on Tuesday at County Hall in Preston, Dr. James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire, offered his sympathies to the family, who had been present throughout the hearing.
Since she fell into the river and suffered from “cold water shock,” he listed her death as accidental and stated that there was “no evidence” to support suicide.
Dr Adeley said: “Excluding a couple of comments over the Christmas period when she was acting out of character and were treated as throw away comments, there was no indication of any intention to take her own life.
“Her behaviour in the week before hear death was back to normal, she had restarted her HRT therapy, stopped drinking some time before, was making plans for play dates and spa days with several people, was becoming increasingly successful at her new career as a mortgage broker and behaved entirely normally during her parents visit of the night before and with Paul Ansell on the morning of her death.”
He added: “The circumstances found after her death would also be extremely unusual for suicide where Nikki left Willow, a dog to who she was devoted and was described as a third child, alone on the river bank.
“Nikki would also had to have had sufficient knowledge of cold water shock to realise as to how rapidly a death may occur as otherwise she may be spotted and saved; that she chose to do so at the main intersection of paths where she could be interrupted at any point would be unusual and to leave her car keys in her pocket with the car in the school playground where her children, to whom she was devoted, would see it would be cruel.
“For these and many other reasons I discount a conclusion of suicide as there is no evidence to support this conclusion.
“There was also no natural disease that contributed to Nikki’s death. The remaining conclusion is that of accidental death.”
Ms. Bulley’s cell phone, which was still on a Teams call for work, was discovered on a bench beside the sea.
On February 19, her body was discovered in the river a mile away from the bench.
The family’s attorney, Sophie Cartwright KC, had earlier stated in her final arguments to the coroner that all the evidence pointed to Ms. Bulley accidently entering the River Wyre and quickly drowning there.
The tribunal heard from Ms. Bulley’s sobbing lover Paul Ansell and sister Louise Cunningham about their worries regarding Ms. Bulley’s difficulty with the menopause and increase in alcohol consumption in the month prior to her passing.
On January 10 of this year, a mental health nurse was requested to visit the family’s residence to meet with Ms. Bulley.
However, they brushed this off as a “blip,” claiming that she was in excellent spirits, making plans for the future, and enjoying life at the time of her disappearance.
As a busy mother who balances work and home life, Ms. Cunningham referred to her as “my big sister” and said she was enjoying resuming her career as a mortgage adviser.
She continued by saying that while her drinking “had a blip” over the recent holiday season, it subsided in January and she was soon “back to the normal Nikki.”
Furthermore, she claimed that Ms. Bulley treated her dog Willow like a “third child” and that there was “no way” she would have purposefully left her unsupervised.
Mr Ansell, Ms Bulley’s partner of 12 years, said: “The blip over the Christmas period happened but in January she was back to herself, looking forward to the future and everything was on the up.
“She had a good day the day before (she went missing), came home full of beans, excited with work, with the meetings she had and plans for the year.”
When the coroner asked Mr Ansell whether Ms Bulley had any suicidal thoughts, he replied: “There were a couple of throwaway comments during the blip period but nothing that gave me any concern.”
He said, breaking down in tears, “She was an incredible mum.”