Sailor gets life for killing officer on submarine

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A Royal Navy crewman who shot dead an officer during a shooting spree on a nuclear submarine was jailed for life yesterday.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 23, admitted murdering Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, with an SA80 rifle in the control room of HMS Astute while it was docked in Southampton on 8 April this year.

Donovan, from Dartford, Kent, also confessed to the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45.

The rampage took place minutes after a group of local schoolchildren had finished a tour of the vessel and they were still standing on the jetty when the sound of gunfire filled the air.

Donovan, who was put on sentry duty despite being drunk, fired six shots from the automatic rifle as local dignitaries, including Southampton City Council's mayor, were being given a tour of the sub, the court heard.

He was only stopped thanks to the heroics of council leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill who wrestled him to the ground before prizing the gun from his grasp.

Describing the shootings as a "murderous onslaught", Mr Justice Field said the self-styled hip-hop rapper would serve at least 25 years in prison.

"You backed away and, undeterred by the danger confronting him, Lt Cdr Molyneux moved forward to apprehend you and you shot him in the side of his head," the judge said. "In killing that officer, you robbed him of a bright future within a loving family."

He added: "Your murderous onslaught was only brought to an end by the intervention of two civilians."

He described the offences as "premeditated, planned and an outrageous breach of trust". Earlier, Mr Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that Donovan had volunteered for guard duty while drunk but was issued with the SA80 in a corridor after passing a test to see if he was sober.