The drama surrounding Nicola Bulley’s disappearance has intensified again as the lead diver on the case finds himself embroiled in a row with the public and insists she’s not in the water.
Peter Faulding has told Nicola’s devastated partner Paul Ansell that ‘she’s not here’ after a third day of searching a particular spot of the River Wyre.
The diving expert used sonar equipment to scan the riverbed and no major obstacles were found. He has now also refuted police theories that her body could have drifted out as far as the Irish Sea.
Commenting on the river bank he told MailOnline: ‘If this is where Nicola fell in you can see that the water is not particularly deep. There are lots of rocks and if she was in the water she would be able to grab hold of them
No one heard any shouts for help and I just can’t see how she could drown here.
He admitted that she could have fallen head first and been knocked out but called it very unlikely.
Police are currently working on the assumption that Nicola’s body has floated towards Fleetwood and the Irish sea and extended their search in that direction.
Mr Faulding is adamant however that in his considerable experience drowning victims would have remained at the bottom of the river for several days.
His words come after Superintendent Sally Riley publically announced an accidental drowning theory as the most plausible reason for her disappearance but Mr Faulding felt that third-party involvement was more likely.
Investigators quickly dampened down speculation about someone else being involved and announced that the diver was privy to all of the facts in the case.
It has since emerged that he has been accused of having an ‘ulterior motive’ and police have stepped in to ask the public to stop taking matters into their own hands by breaking into outhouses in the area.
Superintendent Riley reiterated their belief that Nicola had fallen into the river saying: ‘Our search has not found Nicola in the river and then a re-search in parts by SGI (the dive company founded by Mr Faulding) has found the same. That does not mean… that Nicola has not been in the river.
‘In light of other inquiries being discounted from the investigation so far… clearly, our main belief is that Nicola did fall into the river.’
In response, some members of the public have accused the diver of pushing his own agenda in the case prompting him to hit back at the claims and also he demanded that he needed access to the withheld information.
‘If there are any more facts that we don’t know about -normally we work alongside police and if you haven’t got the facts then you can’t conduct a proper search, it is very difficult without that information.
‘Normally, I’m privy to that information… it would be useful to know.’
He went on to refute claims of an ulterior motive saying: ‘This is what you get for trying to help people. I have given my life to helping families looking for missing loved ones.
As the drama unfolded investigators issued a statement imploring the public to stop meddling in the case.
Supt Riley cautioned ‘amateur detectives’ would be arrested if they were found to breaking the law while looking for the missing mum.
‘There are some properties along the riverside which are empty or derelict and whilst it may be well-intentioned that people think that could be a line of inquiry, I would ask them to desist from doing that.’
‘I would ask them to desist from doing that. In some cases it may be criminal if they are breaking in, causing damage or committing a burglary.’