Women 'fearful' of going out in Lancashire village where mother-of-two Nicola Bulley vanished

Nicola Bulley disappeared on Friday 27 January. Credit: PA

Women are fearful of going out in the village where dog walker Nicola Bulley vanished a week ago, a potential witness traced by police has said.

Christine Bowman, 67, had been identified as a dog walker who may have been one of the last people to see Ms Bulley before her disappearance last Friday morning (27 January) as she walked her dog near the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

But after Ms Bowman, a retired teacher, was traced following a police appeal, she told the Daily Mirror she had already spoken to officers and "doesn't know anything".

She added: "It has made local women fearful. If they have husbands or partners, they have been taking the dogs out instead."

Nicola Bulley was last seen on January 27 Credit: Lancashire Police

Lancashire Police, who have launched a huge search operation, said that despite "unanswered questions", people should not "speculate or spread false rumours" about the disappearance.

Ms Bulley, 45, a mother-of-two and mortgage adviser from Inskip, Lancashire, vanished while walking her dog after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school last Friday morning.

Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre in the Lancashire countryside.

Ms Bulley's husband, engineer Paul Ansell, her parents and sister have pleaded for information.

Speaking about the events of the last week, her sister Louise Cunningham said: "It feels like I'm stuck in a nightmare. We're going round in circles to piece together what happened.

"We've got to keep an open mind. We have no idea where she is. There's no evidence to point us in any direction.

Her tearful father Ernie Bulley said Nicola's young daughters still believed it is "only a matter of time" before their mother comes home.

He said: "My hope is that she's still out there. We just want her home. Her children need her home.

"It's heartbreaking. We're such a close-knit family, we'd do anything for any one of us.

"Somebody must know something, people don't just vanish. If there's anything you might have seen, please get in touch with the police."

Police divers using specialist equipment have been seen searching the River Wyre below where Ms Bulley's items were found on the bench.

Ms Bulley's partner, Paul Ansell, said earlier this week the family were living in "perpetual hell".

Police say Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am last Friday while walking her dog, and she had logged on to a work Teams call, which ended at 9.30am with her still logged on.

Specialist search teams from Lancashire Police, beside the bench (top left) where Nicola Bulley's phone was found. Credit: PA

Ms Bulley and her family are originally from Essex but moved to Lancashire around 25 years ago.

Lancashire Police have said they do not believe any crime has been committed and are treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.

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