A dog walker who found Nicola Bulley’s mobile phone on a bench before she had been reported missing has claimed that he “knew something wasn’t right” .
The man, identified only as Ron, thought when he first spotted the phone that someone had left it there while they had gone to relieve themselves nearby.
He had been walking beside the river in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, close to the spot where the mother of two disappeared on the morning of 27 January.
But Ron said that when it became clear that nobody was returning to the mobile, he picked it up, at around 9.35am, and saw a wallpaper image flash up showing Ms Bulley with her partner, Paul Ansell.
The phone was apparently still connected to a Microsoft Teams call that she had logged in to for her job as a mortgage adviser.
Ron, who walks his own dog in the area most days, said he did not know the couple by name, but knew them as the owner of spaniel Willow, Ms Bulley’s dog.
He said he gave a full statement to the police after finding the phone.
He told Sky News: “I got to about this red brick building here and I thought ‘this is not right’.”
Another woman, called Penny, had intially spotted the phone but did not touch it.
He said: “Then it was just a progression of things happening, you know.
“Because of the wallpaper on the phone, we found out who the couple were, and the school was contacted and Paul arrived.”
Willow’s harness and lead were halfway between the bench and the river.
Ms Bulley, who had her hair in a ponytail at the time, had been spotted 25 minutes earlier, by someone who knows her whose identity has not been made public.
Her mobile phone was traced to the bench area at around 9.20am.
The Teams call ended at around 9.30am, but Ms Bulley stayed logged on.
Another dog walker who had been in the area that morning, Christine Bowman, 67, has told police she did not see Ms Bulley and was unable to offer any new insights.