There was no conspiracy to kill a wealthy British businessman who died in a hit-and-run in Ukraine while celebrating his first wedding anniversary, a judge has concluded.
Barry Pring, 47, suffered fatal injuries when he was hit by a car while waiting for a taxi on a carriageway outside a restaurant in Kiev on February 16 2008.
The IT consultant had been out to dinner with his wife Ganna Ziuzina, now known as Julianna Moore, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
After the meal, Ms Moore tried to call a taxi but was told one would not arrive for up to 40 minutes and so the couple walked to a nearby road to try to flag down a passing car, an inquest heard.
They climbed over a guard rail and onto the hard shoulder of the road before Ms Moore returned to the restaurant to collect a glove she had left under the table.
Judge Paul Matthews described how a car with false number plates “travelling at high speeds” then hit Mr Pring on the unlit hard shoulder, causing fatal injuries.
The judge, sitting as a senior coroner, reached a narrative conclusion following a five-day inquest at Bristol Civil Justice Centre.
He said: “Extensive police inquiries in Ukraine unfortunately failed to identify either the vehicle or the driver.
“No charges have ever been brought in relation to the death.
“Apart from the driver of the car, no other person was involved in the death of Barry Pring. In particular, there was no conspiracy to kill him.”
The inquest heard how Mr Pring, who was originally from Devon, met Ms Moore on an internet dating website and they married in Ukraine in January 2007.
Mr Pring’s family told the inquest how Ms Moore seemed “cold” and “not loving or caring” towards her husband.
His mother Irene and brother Shaughan began suspecting foul play following his death and later accused Ms Moore of organising for him to be murdered.
They hired a private investigator in Ukraine, who claimed the authorities had not investigated Mr Pring’s death properly.
An inquest held at Devon County Hall in January 2017 concluded that Mr Pring was unlawfully killed, but this was later quashed by the High Court, which ordered a fresh hearing to take place.
Judge Matthews, who presided over the second inquest, said: “There is not a single piece of direct evidence to show that there was any such conspiracy, or that if there was, Julianna Moore was involved.
“Instead, the Pring family put forward a number of allegations based on circumstantial evidence which they say, when taken together, collectively suggest that Julianna Moore was criminally involved in organising the death of her husband Barry Pring and was indeed guilty of his murder.”
The judge said that allegations of Ms Moore being “cold” towards her husband or of him being “besotted and manipulated”, if true, were not evidence that she had murdered him.
Mr Pring owned three properties in the London area and a flat in Kiev, but the judge described him as “not that wealthy” as these were mortgaged, which Ms Moore knew.
Giving evidence to the inquest, Ms Moore said her life would have been “much more comfortable financially” if Mr Pring was alive, and denied any involvement in his death.
Mr Pring’s family raised suspicions at the choice of restaurant for the anniversary meal, next to a fast road, but the judge said it served traditional Ukrainian food which they enjoyed.
He added there was “no evidence” that Ms Moore had put drugs in Mr Pring’s drinks that evening to incapacitate him.
Police have been unable to establish that Ms Moore made a phone call shortly before her husband’s death, the judge said.
Mr Pring’s family also questioned why the couple would have attempted to flag down a car on a busy road, but Judge Matthews described how there was “clear evidence of this practice” in Kiev at the time.
The carriageway where Mr Pring and Ms Moore were waiting was heading away from the capital, but there was an option for a car to turn around and drive in the other direction a short distance away.
Judge Matthews said: “The family say it is suspicious Julianna Moore left Barry Pring on the hard shoulder but that is explained by the glove, which was found by a waitress under their table.”
Mr Pring’s family told the inquest how Ms Moore was “cold and hard” and “displayed no emotion” during phone calls informing them of his death.
The judge said: “If she was so cold and hard, why did she repatriate Barry’s body at her own expense as Barry’s family wanted, rather than simply having him cremated there?”
He added that he believed Ms Moore was “trying not to upset the family” during the phone calls.
Judge Matthews questioned the timing of Mr Pring’s death, given he and his wife were due to go on holiday within a few weeks.
He added: “If this was a murder, it was a curious, risky and inept way to carry it out.
“The driver could not have been sure of hitting Barry in a high speed collision, and if he hit him, that he would kill him.
“In my view, there are too many ducks to be lined up in a row in order for this to be a sensible means of carrying out a plot to murder.
“I am not persuaded that there ever was a conspiracy to murder Barry Pring, much less that Julianna Moore was part of it.”
Mr Pring’s cause of death was recorded as multiple injuries.