Sailor in court over sub shootings

A Royal Navy sailor has appeared in court accused of the murder of a colleague and the attempted murders of three other crew on board a nuclear submarine.

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, 22, of Hillside Road, Dartford, Kent, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during the short hearing at Southampton Magistrates' Court.

Donovan has been charged with the murder of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, who was fatally shot on board HMS Astute while it was docked in Southampton, Hampshire, on Friday.

He has also been charged with the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45.

Donovan, who was wearing a black T-shirt and appeared to be unshaven, was remanded in custody to appear at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday April 13.

Nick Hawkins, prosecuting, said that the case could have been handled internally by the armed forces but it had been agreed that the case would be held in the civilian courts.

Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow, Gillian, described the father of four from Wigan as "utterly devoted to his family".

She added: "Everything he did was for us. He was very proud to be an officer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service."

The shootings took place as local dignitaries, including the city council's mayor, chief executive and leader, were being given a tour of the submarine while it was berthed at the Eastern Docks on a five-day official visit to the city.

HMS Astute has been cleared to leave Southampton this afternoon to return to its base at Faslane, Scotland.

Mr Hawkins, the chief prosecutor for Hampshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The defendant is a serviceman, the incident took place on board HMS Astute, a submarine which was on a port visit to Southampton.

"Because the defendant is a serviceman he also falls under the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces.

"The Armed Forces do have jurisdiction but during the course of the weekend I had discussions with the director of service prosecutions and we are in agreement this case is properly to be tried in the civilian courts and therefore should be dealt with no differently to any other murder or attempted murder cases that appears before your court."

Describing the allegation against Donovan, he said: "The prosecution claims it was the deliberate discharge of a SA80 rifle six times, aimed at four people, one of which was fatally wounded."