A dog breeder who shot his wife on the Prime Minister’s family estate sent a text message to her friend saying: "Didn’t go too well… Debbie is dead, so sorry", before later turning the gun on himself, an inquest has heard.
John Zurick, 67, killed his wife Deborah, 56, at their home in the Exmoor village of Winsford, Somerset, after she left him for another man.
The pair, who were respected breeders of working clumber spaniels, had bought the cottage from Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, and were neighbours of his.
But they separated in November 2019 after Mrs Zurick began a relationship with a man in Ireland.
Taunton Coroner’s Court heard that she was shot with a shotgun in February last year when she returned to Exmoor to collect belongings and two of her dogs.
Elizabeth Murphy, a friend of the couple, gave a statement to the inquest describing how she had sent a message to Mrs Zurick expressing the hope that her trip to collect her things had gone well.
Debbie Zurick and her husband were respected spaniel breeders
The hearing was told Mr Zurick replied: "Didn’t go too well. So sorry … Debbie is dead. I will be in a moment. So sorry."
Mrs Murphy then went to the house. She told police how Mr Zurick had then forced her into an office, which he locked before moving her to the nearby stables, telling her: "If I can’t have [Mrs Zurick], no one can".
Mr Zurick then turned the gun on himself but did not immediately die. He was airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, where he died from his injuries on February 27.
The inquest heard that Mr Zurick was a licensed shotgun holder but had his firearms seized by police after he was caught drink driving and expressed an intention to harm himself.
However, he used a different shotgun to shoot his estranged wife twice in the back before turning the gun on himself.
Statements were read from two police officers who seized guns from the cottage after Mr Zurick was arrested on February 5.
They described how Mr Zurick led them to two gun cabinets in the house and assured them there were no further weapons in the property.
The scene of the shooting in Somerset
Credit: BPM Media
The inquest heard it has not been established who the shotgun used in the incident belonged to, or why it was at the cottage.
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) did not identify any learning for Avon and Somerset Police for how the firearms seizure was handled, the inquest was told.
Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, concluded that Mrs Zurick had been unlawfully killed and Mr Zurick’s death was due to suicide, following the inquest on Wednesday.
"Deborah Zurick was shot twice in the back by John using a shotgun and subsequently he turned the gun on himself," Mr Williams, referring to a ballistics report, said.
"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."
The inquest heard Mrs Zurick would have died a short time after suffering the shotgun wounds during the incident on February 22.
Avon and Somerset Police would have prosecuted him for murder had he survived, the hearing was told.