THIS is the heartbreaking last photograph of Nicola Bulley before the mum-of-two drowned – with an inquest today revealing the tragic last details before her death.
Nicola's disappearance sparked a massive search lasting almost three weeks, with her body found in the river near where she was last seen.
Her family have now finally been given answers over her tragic death – with the coroner today ruling the mum's cause of death was accidental.
It was found the mum had fallen into cold water while out walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.
At the time, Nicola's family said their "worst fears had been confirmed".
A statement added: "We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.
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"We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.
"Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most."
They added: "Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones. Keep that hope alive.
"Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.
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"We love you, always have and always will, we'll take it from here."
Here are five new details that were revealed in the inquest in the search for answers.
1. How Nicola died
Coroner Dr James Adeley has now ruled Nicola's death was an accident after she fell in the water and suffered "cold water shock".
The verdict brings an end to speculation that has surrounded the mortgage adviser's mysterious disappearance.
The coroner said the river bank where Nicola fell had an "almost vertical drop".
Dr Adeley explained the current on the day she drowned would have made it "almost impossible" for her to get out the water.
He said due to the temperature of the river, Nicola could have gasped as she entered and inhaled a lethal dose of two litres of water.
This meant she would already be dead by the time she reached a point she could stand 40 metres away, the coroner added.
2. Paul's last text
Nicola's partner Paul Ansell revealed his heartbreaking final text to her at the inquest.
He then told how he messaged his partner at 10.30am – around an hour after Nicola is believed to have fallen in the river.
Paul wrote: "Have you got lost?"
He received a phonecall 20 minutes later from the children's school saying Nicola's phone and dog Willow had been found.
It comes as…
- Nicola's cause of death was revealed for the first time as drowning
- An expert said the mum likely died in "two breaths"
- Nicola's Fitbit was still recording movement eight days after she disappeared
- Her terrifying final moments were recreated by a police diver
- Nicola's sister wept as she revealed the mum would never leave dog Willow unattended
- Partner Paul Ansell told how Nicola had been 'excited' for life and 'full of beans' the night before she vanished
- He also gave his own theory behind why Nicola's phone was found on a bench
Paul then broke down and had to leave the room as he told how Nicola's daughters were her "absolute world".
After returning, he added: "She was grateful for every day, she was an amazing mum and partner and this gave her huge security.
"She focused on the important things and did the right thing by everyone.
"She was well-respected by all who knew her. Everybody loved her."
3. No one else involved
The inquest heard that no one else was involved in Nicola Bulley's death.
Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour, who carried out the autopsy, said she believed Nicola was alive when she entered the water.
The expert also confirmed there was no sign she had been assaulted before her death or that a third party was involved.
Instead, the inquest was also told it is likely Nicola fell into the River Wyre from a "cliff-edge drop".
Once in the water, she travelled at a "metre a second" downstream in the "steady flow" of the river.
Diving expert Professor Mike Tipton said she would have lost consciousness almost instantly as a result of the 4C temperature of the river.
He also suggested she would have drowned in "one or two breaths" and died "in less than ten minutes".
Her Fitbit watch and Mercedes car keys were discovered three weeks later when her Nicola's body was recovered.
The watch had stopped recording Nicola's steps at 9.30am on the day she disappeared.
Police confirmed that following analysis of her iPhone and Fitbit watch data, she “very possibly” entered the water at 9.22am.
4. No drink in Nicola's system
An autopsy found that there was no drink in Nicola's system when she fell into the river.
Lancashire Police made the highly controversial decision to disclose painfully personal details of Nicola's struggle with alcohol and the perimenopause during the search for her.
Nicola's sister Louise also grew emotional during her own evidence as she paid tribute to the "absolutely brilliant" mum.
She told how Nicola was just returning to her "normal self" following a "blip" with her struggles, which came as a result of hormone replacement therapy and the perimenopause.
Louise also said dog Willow was like Nicola's "third child" as she told how her sister "never, ever confided" in her about having suicidal thoughts.
Dr Adeley asked: "If this was something she had thought about, taking her own life, would she just leave the dog in the field and go?"
Louise replied: "Absolutely not. There is no way Nikki would leave Willow unattended."
The inquest was told police had attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home on January 10 but no arrests were made.
Louise had called a mental health team asking for "some assistance".
The family were concerned with the mum's increased alcohol use and had said she "didn't want to be here", it was said.
Louise added: "It was a bit of a wake-up call for her I think. She was fuming with me for calling the ambulance, she thought I had overreacted and maybe I did, but she is my sister and I was concerned.
"She started to get back to normal after that."
The following day, the mum went to a walk-in centre saying she had had fallen and banged her head the previous night .
Nicola also complained she was feeling drowsy and had been sick.
She was sent to A&E at Blackpool Victoria Infirmary where a CT scan found no internal injuries.
The hearing was also told Nicola had been struggling with sleep previously and her "brain felt overloaded".
5. Mum 'excited' before she vanished
Partner Paul Ansell said Nicola was "full of beans" on the night before her disappearance and had a "good day" planning meetings.
He added: "She was getting back into her work, she was excited, it was going really well.
"She had worked so hard. She was happy about earning her own money and getting that independence again."
Paul confirmed the morning Nicola vanished was "normal" as the mum dropped their children off at school before heading to the field where she would usually do a two-loop walk.
Her former GP Dr Rebecca Gray said there was "nothing" in Nicola's medical records to suggest she was suicidal or intending self-harm.
The huge search for Nicola was brought to a tragic end on February 19 as police were scrambled to a different section of the river.
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Two dog walkers discovered her body less than a mile from where she was last seen.
The heartbreaking discovery came after what officers had branded a "hugely complex and highly emotional" search.
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