A HUSBAND shot his royal dog breeder wife dead before turning the gun on himself after she moved in with a new lover, an inquest heard.
Princess Anne’s pal Deborah Zurick, 56, was blasted twice in the back by John Zurick, 67, at the cottage where Boris Johnson grew up in Exmoor.
He then told her friend “If I can’t have her no one can” before shooting himself dead with the sawn-off shotgun.
An inquest heard today Deborah had returned to the cottage in February last year to pick up her belongings after moving in a new partner in Ireland.
She had been “nervous” about the trip and was accompanied by pal Elizabeth Murphy.
Deborah and Zurick had an “intense” encounter but he later joined her as she went to walk her dogs in the rural countryside.
But Elizabeth told how Zurick returned home carrying a shotgun, telling her: “I’ve shot Debbie, and you can f**k off.”
‘DEBBIE IS DEAD’
She pleaded with him to call an ambulance but the raging gunman instead shoved her into an office and then a stables after realising she could escape.
After a failed attempt to kill himself in his car, Elizabeth said she heard Zurick confirm “I’m going to shoot myself” before asking her if she could tell “everyone I’m sorry”.
Terrified Elizabeth said she heard a muffled bang and emerged from the stable 20 minutes later to find Deborah “flat on ground on her back.”
Armed cops swooped on the cottage and discovered Zurick in an outbuilding with a shotgun wound to the head.
He was later declared dead in hospital on February 27.
The inquest was told friend Heidrun Humphries had text Zurick saying she hoped the meeting with Deborah had gone well.
But he replied: “Didn’t go too well. So sorry.”
In a further message, Zurick told her: “Debbie is dead. I will be in a moment. So sorry.”
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Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
- Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
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A coroner today ruled Deborah was unlawfully killed by Zurick, who then committed suicide.
The inquest was told Deborah had met her husband when she was 12 and the pair married seven years later.
But their marriage was consumed by Zurick’s battle with alcohol – with the breeder sometimes downing three bottles of wine a night.
Deborah also told pals she felt “unsupported” by her husband after she was previously diagnosed with cancer and she eventually told him she was leaving two months before her death.
In January last year, Zurick was arrested for drink-driving and threatened to harm himself while in custody.
As a result, police seized firearms in the property after Zurick, who held a firearms licence, led them to two gun cabinets in the house.
But the inquest was told it has not been established who the shotgun used in the incident belonged to or why it was at the cottage.
Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, said: “Deborah Zurick was shot twice in the back by John using a shotgun and subsequently he turned the gun on himself.
“As to Deborah’s death, there was no evidence that suggested self-defence or accident, only that John intended to end Deborah’s life in the most calculated way.
“John then deliberately discharged the shotgun with the intention of ending his life.”
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The couple trained and bred gundogs for a living and were part of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society which boasts Princess Anne as president.
Speaking after the tragedy, a spokesperson for the royal said: “The Princess Royal is saddened to hear of the death of Mrs Debbie Zurick.
“She will be sorely missed as secretary of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society.”