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Woman gunned down at country home was much loved, says PM’s father

UK News | Published:

Stanley Johnson said: ‘Both I and my whole family are shocked, stunned and saddened by this tragic incident.’

Stanley Johnson

The Prime Minister’s father has said his family is “shocked, stunned and saddened” by the death of his neighbour, who was shot at her country cottage.

The woman, named locally as 56-year-old Debbie Zurick, was gunned down at the weekend at her home in Winsford, near Minehead in Somerset, which is next to Stanley Johnson’s rural estate.

Mrs Zurick’s husband, John, is believed to be in hospital with self-inflicted injuries.

Avon and Somerset Police were called to Winsford by a member of the public raising concerns over the welfare of a woman at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Mrs Zurick was found outside the property with severe injuries and pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said a second woman, being treated as a key witness, was located unhurt nearby.

A further search found a 67-year-old man, who had also suffered serious injuries caused by a shotgun, in an outbuilding, officers said.

Police said the man, whose condition is described as critical but stable, is in custody but has been taken to a hospital in Devon for emergency treatment.

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The force has referred itself to the police watchdog due to previous contact with those involved.

Detective Superintendent Julie Mackay, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “This is a very serious incident in which a woman has lost her life and we are deploying family liaison officers to support the next of kin.

“The scene remains cordoned off so further forensic inquiries and searches can take place over the next few days.”

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Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, told the PA news agency: “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 had several dogs, including one apparently named after the Prime Minister.

An image posted on Mr Zurick’s Facebook page in March 2016, captioned “Boris meets Boris”, appears to show Mr Johnson with the dog.

A spokesman for the Working Clumber Spaniel Society said: “I’m sorry, I can’t comment on anything”, and hung up the phone.

A post from Jane De Savary on Mrs Zurick’s Facebook page said: “Darling Debbie you will be so missed so loved by all who knew you RIP”.

Jackie Blakeman also posted on Facebook: “RIP Debbie, we’ll remember you with love always.”

Mr Zurick previously told the Working Clumber Spaniel Society that he had trained a dog for the Princess Royal.

Asked in a now-deleted question-and-answer section on the website about the most embarrassing thing his dog had ever done, Mr Zurick replied: “Sparkle, who I trained for (Princess Anne), burying a pheasant rather than giving it to hand.

“Princess Anne left a message on the answer phone machine saying ‘If I wanted an undertaker then I would have asked for one.’

“She didn’t leave a name but Debbie knew the voice so I called her back in the morning and she was chuckling, telling me what had happened.

“She had sent Sparkle out, she had picked the bird beautifully, brought it halfway back, dug a hole and buried it.”

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