Neighbour of Boris Johnson’s father ‘who shot his estranged wife’ has died


A neighbour of Boris Johnson‘s father who allegedly shot his estranged wife has died after he was injured in the suspected murder-suicide.

John Zurick, 67, gunned down wife Debbie, 56, after he discovered she had a new boyfriend. He then turned the shotgun on himself, friends said previously.

Paramedics were called to the cottage, on the Prime Minister’s family estate in Somerset, on Saturday afternoon but were unable to save Mrs Zurick.

Her husband was airlifted to hospital, where he was in a critical but stable condition. It has now been confirmed he succumbed to his injuries.

 The couple, who had been married for 30 years, bred and trained clumber spaniels. Mr and Mrs Zurick were neighbours of Stanley Johnson – the father of PM Boris Johnson.

Pictured: Debbie and John Zurick with their dogs. Police have opened a murder probe

Pictured: Debbie and John Zurick with their dogs. Police have opened a murder probe

Pictured: Debbie Zurick and John Zurick. Neighbours of the couple, who lived in Nethercote Cottage, Winsford, Somerset, next to the Johnson family’s 500-acre estate, say the couple’s marriage was in crisis and Mrs Zurick had asked her husband for a divorce

Pictured: Debbie Zurick and John Zurick. Neighbours of the couple, who lived in Nethercote Cottage, Winsford, Somerset, next to the Johnson family’s 500-acre estate, say the couple’s marriage was in crisis and Mrs Zurick had asked her husband for a divorce

Paramedics were called to the cottage, on the Prime Minister's family estate in Somerset, on Saturday afternoon but were unable to save Mrs Zurick (pictured)

Paramedics were called to the cottage, on the Prime Minister’s family estate in Somerset, on Saturday afternoon but were unable to save Mrs Zurick (pictured)

Stanley Johnson previously told the Daily Mail: ‘Both I and my whole family are shocked, stunned and saddened by this tragic incident.

‘We very much regret the passing of Mrs Zurick. She was a neighbour and she was much loved.

‘She was honorary secretary of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society and was much loved for the work she did, in the society and in Exmoor and beyond.’ He declined to say whether his family had taken working spaniels from the Zuricks.

A photograph on Mr Zurick’s Facebook page from March 2016 appears to show Mr Johnson outside the cottage in Winsford, near Minehead, with one of the couple’s dogs, also called Boris.

The Zuricks bought the property, where the Prime Minister spent some of his childhood, from Mr Johnson’s father Stanley for £440,000 in 2013.

Stanley Johnson owns the neighbouring 14th century farmhouse on the Nethercote estate with his wife Jennifer. A third house on the estate is owned by the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel.

A picture posted on the couple's social media showing Boris Johnson meeting their dog, also called Boris

A picture posted on the couple’s social media showing Boris Johnson meeting their dog, also called Boris

There are also a number of barns, which have been converted into properties, whose owners include Boris and his brother Leo.

The Zuricks were regulars at game shoots and were key figures in the Working Clumber Spaniel Society, of which Princess Anne is president.

On the society’s website, Mr Zurick describes how he trained Anne’s dog Sparkle but received a rebuke from the princess when the hound failed to bring back a pheasant.

Friends of the couple said Mrs Zurick had become ‘exasperated’ with her husband and moved to a friend’s house in Ireland ‘to get away from it all’.

Mr Zurick had hoped for a reconciliation and was deeply upset when he discovered his wife had a new boyfriend.

Mrs Zurick, who is said to have been treated for cancer, is believed to have been shot when she returned to the cottage on Saturday with a female friend to collect some possessions and take care of the dog breeding business.

Firearms officers were despatched to the property at 2.30pm on Saturday and found Mrs Zurick outside with severe injuries. Her friend was uninjured. Mr Zurick, who had suffered a shotgun wound, was in an outbuilding.

Officers were called to the property after reports of a hearing a gunshot in Winsford, Somerset

Officers were called to the property after reports of a hearing a gunshot in Winsford, Somerset

A close friend of the couple told the Daily Mail: ‘They split up a few months ago and Debbie went to live in Ireland to get away from it all. She was exasperated with their relationship.

‘Debbie returned to the cottage because of the dogs and John had just found out about the new man in her life.’

One neighbour said: ‘Debbie wanted a separation.

‘Things came to a head over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been told that she’s dead and that is such awful news – particularly as she seemed to be recovering well from cancer treatment.’

Another neighbour said: ‘Debbie was popular around here. She lived for her dogs and she’d look after other dogs for friends.

‘From what you hear they were friendly with the Johnsons, which is just as well as there’s no other property for at least a mile in any direction.’

Winsford borders Exmoor National Park and is home to a 12th century pub, The Royal Oak Exmoor

Winsford borders Exmoor National Park and is home to a 12th century pub, The Royal Oak Exmoor

Mr Zurick developed an interest in shooting through his father-in-law and bought his first shotgun from him, friends said.

Mr and Mrs Zurick had no children. Mr Zurick’s son from his first marriage died in 1995 aged 17.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Rice, of the major crime investigation team, said: ‘This is a tragic incident and detectives, investigators and crime scene specialists are working closely with local uniformed officers to examine the scene and reassure the local community.

‘Dedicated liaison officers are also supporting family members and friends through this difficult time.

‘We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, and our focus is now on supporting those affected by it, and completing our inquiries so we can provide a file of evidence to the coroner’s office for Somerset.

‘My team and I will continue to co-operate with the Independent Office for Police Conduct on their investigation.

‘There has been a large police presence in the small hamlet of Winsford and I would like to thank the local community for their patience, co-operation and support while we conducted our investigations.

‘I would like anyone with concerns, worries or any information to speak to their local neighbourhood officers either face-to-face, by calling 101, or contacting us through our website.’



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