The fiancée of a Bristol millionaire jeweller shot dead by his ex-lover has claimed a business rival may have ordered his killing.
Maria Korotaeva has described the terrifying night businessman Andy Bush was murdered in his Spanish villa seven years ago, The Mirror reports
She tells how he had proposed to her at dinner before driving them home in his £60,000 gold-plated Humvee 4×4.
But they did not realise his ex-girlfriend, Slovakian swimwear model Mayka Kukucova, was lying in wait for him inside, armed with a .38 revolver.
Kukucova shot 48-year-old Bush three times – twice in the head – before making her escape in his car. She was later caught in her home country 2,000 miles away and is now in jail.
In a Malaga court, the crime was put down to the revenge of a jealous lover – but Russian businesswoman Maria, 27, has published allegations that the killing was a “hit” in a new tell-all book.
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Maria says: “A couple of weeks before his murder, Andy was in Germany at a jewellers conference.
“He came back really upset, saying that someone – a rival entrepreneur, I think – was threatening him because of his plans. We think Mayka was told if she did the murder she would get three or four years.
Bush started dating Kukucova in 2012 after she got a job at his Gold Trader shop in Bristol. They were together for two years.
Months after their split he met Maria, who was in the UK studying for a business and human resources degree.
In April 2014, they flew to his five-bedroom villa in Estepona, 18 miles down the coast from Marbella, for a romantic weekend.
On the night of the murder, the couple had been out for dinner – where Bush popped the question.
“Twenty minutes before he was killed, he proposed to me,” says Maria.
But the couple never got to tell their families about their happy news.
“I remember we were sitting in Andy’s Hummer outside the house,” says Maria. “I went in first and as I entered, I saw that dirty dishes were lying on the table and I knew that they weren’t mine.
“I knew someone was in so I went to the second floor and I saw Mayka in her pyjamas. It was the first time I had ever seen her. She looked at me with no emotion whatsoever.
“I got scared and I just screamed. I ran outside and back to the car.” Maria stayed in the Humvee while Andy went inside the house to speak to Kukucova.
She says she was unable to call the police because her mobile phone battery had died.
‘I felt my life was in danger’
Then, after 10 minutes, she heard bangs inside the villa. Maria says: “I’ve never heard gunshots so I didn’t know what it was.
“I thought it was just something heavy dropping, like a suitcase down the stairs.
“Mayka came out fully dressed, with her hair in a ponytail and carrying a suitcase. She told me that Andy had said she could take the car.”
Maria, who runs a property business as well as being a singer and writer, says she feared Bush’s ex-girlfriend might come back for her.
“During that time, I felt my life was in danger. She spent three days on the run and I didn’t know where she was. I was the only witness and I thought my life was under threat.
“I had no security or guards or police. It was terrifying.”
Kukucova drove across Europe to her home town in Slovakia before handing herself in to police.
She was extradited to Spain and jailed for 15 years in May 2016. But the model had her prison sentence reduced on appeal the following year to 13 years. At her Malaga trial, she claimed she had fired the gun in self-defence after Bush attacked her first.
But the jury unanimously rejected her version of events.
The judge also ordered her to pay £122,000 compensation to Bush’s daughter Ellie from his previous marriage to former BBC Bristol presenter Sam Mason. She also had to pay £30,500 to his sister, Rachel.
Throughout the trial there was no mention of any conspiracy to kill Bush.
After the killing, Maria moved to Tenerife before returning to the UK for a while. But she has now moved back to her native Russia where she wrote her memoirs during lockdown.
Maria hopes the book, which offers what she believes to be the truth about the horrific crime, will be sold in Britain.
She says: “There was a 30-year age difference between myself and Andy and people were judgemental about that.
“But I wanted to tell the truth. It was always my idea to write the book. I always wanted to do it but I couldn’t because of the court case.
“I wanted to tell girls how to deal with the loss of your partner, the loss of your love and how to deal with the psychological trauma.
“It’s also about how to come out stronger and healthier.”
Since Bush’s death, Maria got married but divorced after two years. She says: “Andrew was the love of my life, that’s why it was so hard for me to move on.
“I want our love – our story – to be remembered. I’ve moved on and I’ve become stronger, but I don’t want to forget him.”