Princess Anne 'saddened' over death of former dog trainer in shooting

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Princess Anne expressed sadness over her death

Princess Anne has expressed her sadness over the death of a dog trainer who was shot and killed at her home in Somerset.

Debbie Zurick, 56, was shot on Saturday afternoon at her home in Winsford, near Minehead.

A man, named in reports as 67-year-old husband John Zurick, was found by police with serious injuries caused by a shotgun. The wound is believed to be self-inflicted.

Mr Zurick is understood to have trained dogs for Princess Anne. The Zuricks home is next to the rural estate owned by the Prime Minister’s father, Stanley Johnson.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “The Princess Royal is saddened to hear of the death of Mrs Debbie Zurick.

“She will be sorely missed as secretary of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society, of which Her Royal Highness is Patron.”

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

Princess Anne said she was saddened by the death. (Getty Images)

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.”

Police have launched a murder investigation into the shooting.

Princess Anne expressed sadness over her death

The shooting took place next to Stanley Johnson’s rural estate in Somerset, and he 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.”

It happened next to the rural estate owned by Stanley Johnson. (Getty Images)

Detective superintendent Julie Mackay, of Avon and Somerset Police’s 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.”

Avon and Somerset has referred itself to the police watchdog because it has had previous contact with the couple.

Police also confirmed officers had seized licensed firearms from the address as part of a separate investigation.

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