In Brief

Somerset shooting: royal dog breeder killed near PM’s father’s estate

Debbie Zurick is shot dead at cottage formerly owned by Stanley Johnson

A man is in police custody after a dog breeder who supplied spaniels to the royal family was shot dead in Somerset near to Boris Johnson’s family estate.

According to reports, Debbie Zurick, 56, was found with severe injuries outside a house in the Exmoor village of Winsford on Saturday and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Her husband John reportedly also suffered shotgun injuries and was airlifted to hospital. He is said to be in a critical but stable condition. 

Avon and Somerset Police, who have launched a murder investigation, said a 67-year-old man was being held in custody, “but had been taken to a hospital in Devon for emergency treatment”, said The Guardian

Officers also took another woman “to a place of safety”. She is understood to have escaped injury and has been described by detectives as a “key witness”.

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The Zuricks, who had reportedly recently separated, bought their cottage from Stanley Johnson, the PM’s father, in 2013, with Boris having spent a large part of his childhood on the 500-acre estate, The Times reports.

Stanley Johnson last night paid tribute to Debbie Zurick, saying his family was “stunned and saddened by this tragic turn of events” and he spoke of the “vitality and inspirational way Debbie conducted her life in the country”.

“She will be sorely missed by her many friends, not only on Exmoor but more widely in the world of dog lovers and dog breeders, in particular the Working Clumber Spaniel Society,” Johnson told the Times.

The couple were renowned Clumber Spaniel breeders and well-known to the royals, having once trained Princess Anne’s dog, Sparkle.

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