Great Britain

Key witness in Princess Anne pal double shooting ‘held captive by killer before being told to flee by 999’

THE KEY witness to the killing one of Princess Anne's pal in a double shooting was held hostage at gunpoint by the alleged murderer before being told to flee, it is reported.

John Zurick, 67, is accused of killing his wife Debbie Zurick, 56, after she revealed her new lover before turning the shotgun on himself at Boris Johnson’s childhood home.

Mr Zurick remains in a critical condition after the alleged murder-suicide bid and is in police custody after the shotgun bloodbath in the sleepy village of Winsford, Somerset.

Dog trainer Debbie, who is believed to have received cancer treatment, was shot as she returned to the cottage on Saturday with a female pal, who Mr Zurick allegedly held captive in an outhouse.

She was able to call 999 and report that Debbie had been fatally shot.

Police used the phone app what3words to find the "key witness" after she fled the scene on Exmoor National Park, The Times reports.

VILLAGE GUN HORROR

The Zuricks, who live next door to Boris Johnson's dad Stanley, trained and bred gundogs for a living and were part of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society which boasts Princess Anne as president.

They trained Princess Anne’s dog Sparkle for her.

Neighbours next to the Johnson family's 500-acre estate said the Zuricks' relationship was in crisis and that Debbie had tried to end their 30-year marriage.

A friend told the Daily Mail: "They split up a few months ago and Debbie went to live in Ireland to get away from it all."

Another 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."

On Tuesday, Sun Online revealed police tried to seize all Mr Zurick's guns as part of a separate investigation just weeks before he allegedly shot dead his estranged wife.

Mr Zurick is due in court on March 12 to face a drink-drive charge.

But we reported yesterday locals claimed cops allegedly let him keep a shotgun hanging on his living room wall days before he shot Debbie dead after he told them it was “ornamental”.

A close family friend claimed officers had allowed him to keep a shotgun because they believed it was “ornamental” and had been deactivated.

It is not known what gun was used to kill Debbie in Saturday’s bloodbath.

Police had tried to seize all of his guns from his farmhouse earlier this month.

The pal told The Sun Online: “Has someone made a terrible and tragic mistake here?”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: “We can confirm we previously attended the address where this incident happened to seize licensed firearms as part of a separate investigation.

“We’re satisfied that no firearms licensed to any of the occupants remained at the premises following this visit.”

Police have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after admitting they had “prior contact” with the Zuricks.

Mr Zurick was allegedly more than two times over the drink-drive limit while riding a motorbike near his home on February 5.

When arrested, he was found to have 78 micrograms of alcohol to 100 ml of breath in his system. The legal limit is 35.

They seemed happy, breeding their Clumber Spaniels for Princess Anne. Princess Anne had a Clumber Spaniel off her

Debbie's half-brother, Philip Townsend

A friend today claimed Zurick turned to booze “in a big way” when his marriage started to collapse late last year.

Neighbours said Debbie had tried to end her 30-year marriage to John and she had become "exasperated" with her husband and stayed at a friend's house in Ireland.

A friend of the Zuricks in Ireland told Sun Online yesterday that Debbie’s death was a "tragic event”.

Debbie's half-brother Phillip Townsend, 44 told The Sun: “I just can’t believe it. It’s so sad.

“They shared each other’s country ideals - they had a house, dogs, guns. They lived a life they loved in the country.”

"They seemed happy, breeding their Clumber Spaniels for Princess Anne. Princess Anne had a Clumber Spaniel off her.”

Last night, the PM's dad, Stanley Johnson, paid tribute to Debbie.

He said: "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 would not confirm if the Johnson family had taken spaniels from the Zuricks.

Mr Zurick was rushed to a hospital in Devon for emergency treatment, but remains in a critical but stable condition.