The widow of a wealthy British businessman killed in a hit and run in Ukraine as he celebrated his first wedding anniversary has denied organising his murder, an inquest heard.
Barry Pring, 47, suffered fatal injuries when he was hit by a vehicle using a stolen number plate 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 January 2007 in a whirlwind romance after meeting online a few months earlier when she had registered with the www.elenasmodels.com website to find a husband.
Ms Ziuzina, now known as Julianna Moore, was a trained primary school teacher but was working as a dancer.
Speaking on a video link from Spain, Ms Moore, 42, who was 19 years younger than her husband, told the inquest in Bristol she had not organised his murder.
John McLinden QC, representing Ms Moore, asked her: “Did you pay anybody to kill Barry, did you give any consideration, whether sexual, or property or anything like that, to reward them for killing Barry?”
She replied: “No.”
Fiona Elder, counsel to the inquest, asked Ms Moore about two men – her builder and a work colleague – that she had spoken to by phone around the time Mr Pring was killed.
She asked the witness: “Did you make any arrangement with either of these two men in relation to the incident that killed your husband?”
Ms Moore replied: “No.”
Asked whether she was motivated by greed to marry Mr Pring and then kill him, Ms Moore said: “For me, my life would be much better with Barry than without him.
“I don’t know why anybody would suggest that I would like to kill him to get some money.
“I knew about the large mortgages he had. Whatever media was blowing that there was millions or whatever or inheritance, it’s not true.
“I was quite aware of substantial mortgages he had. My life financially would be much more comfortable having Barry than not having him.”
Ms Moore suggested she would have been financially better off divorcing Mr Pring, then having him killed and having to share his estate with his family.
She also denied accusations she had “hypnotised” Mr Pring or that he was “besotted” with her and said she found the allegations “hurtful”.
“Barry was a grown-up man,” she said.
“He was very strong willed. He had his own ideas about life. He wasn’t a man that could easily fall under the spell. He was a very strong willed person.”
The inquest was taking place at Bristol Civil Justice Centre before Judge Paul Matthews.
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.
His family became suspicious that his death may have been foul play because Ms Moore was “very cold” towards him and “not loving or caring”.
They hired a private investigator in the Ukraine who discovered the authorities had not investigated Mr Pring’s death properly.
In earlier High Court proceedings, the Pring family had accused Ms Moore of murdering her husband for his money.
Mr Pring’s brother, Shaughan, 58, told the inquest he became suspicious after speaking to his brother’s best friend Peter Clifford.
“On that night my initial concern was for Ms Moore,” Mr Pring said.
“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.