A wealthy British businessman died in a hit-and-run in Ukraine while celebrating his first wedding anniversary, an inquest heard.
Barry Pring, 47, suffered fatal injuries when he was hit by a vehicle – possibly a lorry – while waiting for a taxi outside a restaurant in Kiev with his wife, Ganna Ziuzina, on February 16 2008.
The IT consultant married Ms Ziuzina, known as Anna, in 2007 in a whirlwind romance after meeting online a few months earlier.
Mr Pring’s mother Irene told the inquest in Bristol that Ms Ziuzina, now known as Julianna Moore, was a teacher but was working “selling tickets for shows” when they met.
“I did not know then how they had met but I assumed he must have met her on his travels,” Mrs Pring said.
“Barry told us Anna’s parents were poor and she was embarrassed to take Barry home to meet them.
“Her English was perfect, and Barry relied on her totally when he was in the Ukraine as he could not speak the language.
“I now know that Barry had started renting a flat for Anna. What he did not tell us was that he had met Anna on the internet after she had placed an advert.”
Mrs Pring said she and her late husband Basil had learned of her son’s intention to marry Ms Moore just a few days before the ceremony in Ukraine in January 2007.
She described meeting Ms Moore for the first time in the summer of 2007 during a visit to Devon.
“I was quite surprised to see how cold she was towards Barry. You would have thought they had been married for years and not newlyweds. She was not loving or caring towards him at all,” she said.
“You would never have guessed they had been apart for months. There did not seem to be a spark between Anna or Barry and was very one-sided.”
Mrs Pring said when she saw the couple again at Christmas, Ms Moore was “very cold” towards her son.
She said she learned of her son’s death from her younger son Shaughan, who had been contacted by phone from the Ukraine by Ms Moore.
The family then began to have suspicions about Mr Pring’s death.
“We became suspicious about what happened the night Barry died and we hired a private investigator and solicitor in the Ukraine to find out what happened,” Mrs Pring said.
“It would appear the initial accident was not investigated as thoroughly as it should be and the police did not appear to be suspicious about the circumstances of what happened.
“Our investigation told us the car that was in collision with Barry was on false plates and had been stolen from a car park near to the apartment which was rented for Anna by Barry before they got married.”
The inquest was taking place at Bristol Civil Justice Centre before Judge Paul Matthews, with Ms Moore watching proceedings by videolink.
The hearing heard Mr Pring, who was originally from Devon, owned three properties in the London area and a flat in Kiev. He also owned a second flat jointly with Ms Moore in Kiev.
Mr Pring’s brother, Shaughan, 58, said he began to believe foul play after speaking to his brother’s best friend Peter Clifford.
John McLinden QC, representing Ms Moore, suggested to Mr Pring he had been “reckless” in accusing his client of murdering her husband during High Court proceedings in 2017.
Reading from Mr Pring’s High Court statement, Mr McLinden said: “In truth, Ms Moore married the deceased for his money and caused his death to rid herself of him and for her own financial benefit, where it was likely the marriage would otherwise have soon come to an end.”
The barrister asked: “You are saying that she did this to your brother, that she murdered him? That has been your allegation all the way through.
“Why was there any need for her to ring you and let you know your brother had died at all?”
Mr Pring replied: “Because I was the only one she had contact details for.”
The barrister asked: “If she had murdered him the next thing to do was to cremate the body and get rid of the evidence. Why did she need to talk to you at all?
“If she was a murderer and had murdered your brother, why was there a need to let you know he had died?”
Mr Pring replied: “I have no idea.”
He went on: “On that night my initial concern was for Ms Moore. I had a gut feeling something didn’t sit right – just the way Ms Moore informed me of Barry’s death.
“It was very calm, very callous, there was no emotion, it was cold.
“I was prepared to come to Ukraine right away because my concern was for her. Afterwards I had a gut feeling things weren’t right.
“Mr Clifford said it was possible my brother may have been murdered for his assets and went through a list of reasons why.
“So initially, absolutely not.”
The hearing continues.