EXCLUSIVE – Revealed: Princess Anne’s friend sought solace in the arms of a wealthy Irish landowner when marriage collapsed before she was ‘shot dead by estranged husband’ on Boris Johnson’s family estate
- Debbie Zurick is believed to have been shot dead by her estranged husband John
- Mrs Zurick, 56, was found with gunshot wounds at her marital home in Somerset
- Mr Zurick, 67, is said to have turned gun on himself; he died in hospital yesterday
- Months before her death, Mrs Zurick started new life in Ballytrent, Rosslare – where she was comforted by wealthy landowner in his mid-sixties, Jamie Ryan
- She stayed at Mr Ryan’s 18th century mansion as her 30-year marriage collapsed
A dog breeding friend of Princess Anne who was allegedly gunned down by her estranged husband sought solace in the arms of a farmer in Ireland when her marriage collapsed, MailOnline can reveal.
Debbie Zurick, 56, was found with gunshot wounds at her marital home on the Somerset estate where Boris Johnson grew up after her husband John discovered she had a new boyfriend.
Mr Zurick, 67, then turned the shotgun on himself, according to friends, and died in hospital yesterday.
In the months before her death, Mrs Zurick had left her husband and started a new life in the picturesque village of Ballytrent, Rosslare, where she was comforted by wealthy landowner Jamie Ryan.
Debbie Zurick – a dog breeding friend of Princess Anne who was allegedly gunned down by her estranged husband, John – sought solace in the arms of Jamie Ryan (pictured), a farmer in Ireland, when her marriage collapsed, MailOnline can reveal
In the months before her death, Mrs Zurick (right) had left her husband and started a new life in the picturesque village of Ballytrent, Rosslare, where she was comforted by Mr Ryan (left), a wealthy landowner
Mr Ryan, a keen fisherman in his mid-sixties, is the great grandson of baronet Sir James Power, who was an Irish Liberal politician and governor of the Bank of Ireland and who died in 1877
Debbie Zurick was particularly fond of Mr Ryan’s two donkeys (seen above with her) which roam around the fields of Ballytrent and posted pictures of her hugging them on her Facebook page
Mrs Zurick had been staying at Mr Ryan’s 18th century mansion (pictured), which has stunning views of the sea, as she contemplated the end of her 30-year marriage
Mrs Zurick had been staying at Mr Ryan’s 18th century mansion, which has stunning views of the sea, as she contemplated the end of her 30-year marriage.
She became a familiar face in the area, walking her dogs and embedding herself in local life as she walked around the three acres surrounding the mansion.
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’.
They say she was happy in the rural surroundings of Ballytrent and was seen by locals shopping at the local SuperValu store for groceries and visiting a local hairdressing salon.
She was particularly fond of Mr Ryan’s two donkeys which roam around the fields of Ballytrent and posted pictures of her hugging them on her Facebook page.
Debbie Zurick (above, with her husband John) was found with gunshot wounds at her marital home on the Somerset estate where Boris Johnson grew up after John discovered she had a new boyfriend
A friend told MailOnline: ‘Debbie and John split up a few months ago and she went to live in Ireland to get away from it all.
‘Jamie was an old friend of both Debbie and John and she enjoyed spending time in Ireland. She was exasperated with their relationship. She needed some time away to clear her head and decide her next move.
‘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.’
Pictured: Debbie and John Zurick with their dogs. Police have opened a murder probe
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.
Mr Ryan, a keen fisherman in his mid-sixties, is the great grandson of baronet Sir James Power, who was an Irish Liberal politician and governor of the Bank of Ireland and who died in 1877.
He saw his own marriage to local head teacher Mary Stratton Ryan collapse several years ago.
He and Mrs Ryan were close friends with the Zuricks and they had stayed at the Ryan home in 2011.
The Zuricks bought the property, where the Prime Minister spent some of his childhood, from Stanley for £440,000 in 2013
A family friend said of Mr Ryan, who was unavailable for comment: ‘Jamie is very well liked around here.
‘I know that after his marriage broke down, Jamie went to live in Galway for a period before coming back. Jamie’s ex-wife Mary is a picture restorer and a head teacher.
‘But they are very private people, so nobody really knows what happened between him and his wife.’
Mr and Mrs Zurick bred and trained clumber spaniels and lived in their cottage where they were neighbours of Stanley Johnson, father of PM Boris.
The Zuricks bought the property, where the Prime Minister spent some of his childhood, from Stanley for £440,000 in 2013.
Stanley 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.
There are also a number of barns, which have been converted into properties, whose owners include Boris and his brother Leo.
Princess Anne, 69, expressed her sadness after learning that Debbie Zurick, who worked for her, had been shot dead. (Pictured second right with the Queen’s daugthter is John Zurick, who allegedly shot his wife)
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.
Stanley this week 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.’
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.
Mr and Mrs Zurick had no children. Mr Zurick’s son from his first marriage died in 1995, aged 17.
Police have begun a murder investigation and are continuing to search the property but are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
Detective Superintendent Julie Mackay said: ‘This is a very serious incident in which a woman has lost her life. Due to prior police contact with those involved, a mandatory referral has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
‘It would be inappropriate for us to go into further details while the referral is being considered.’
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