George Medal awarded to Royal Navy officer Ian Molyneux


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The Independent Online

A Royal Navy officer murdered trying to stop a sailor carrying out a gun rampage aboard a nuclear-powered submarine has been awarded one of the highest medals for bravery.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux receives a posthumous George Medal - second only to the George Cross - for attempting to tackle Able Seaman Ryan Donovan as he ran amok on HMS Astute while it was docked in Southampton.

His widow Gillian said she felt "extremely proud and humbled" to know that her husband's "remarkable bravery" has been recognised.

Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, a father of four from Standish, Wigan, tried to disarm Donovan after hearing shots on board the submarine on April 8 last year, but was shot in the head.

The gunman was then wrestled to the ground by Southampton City Council's leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill, who were visiting the submarine at the time.

In a letter to Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said: "In giving his life to save others Ian demonstrated courage of the highest possible order. His selfless actions displayed incredible presence of mind and singular bravery."

Mrs Molyneux said: "On behalf of myself and our children, I wish to express how extremely proud and humbled we all feel to know that Ian's remarkable bravery has been recognised with such a prestigious award.

"Ian is so desperately missed, but his memory will live on through his four beautiful children and in the hearts and minds of all who knew him."

Donovan was jailed for at least 25 years in September for murdering Lt Cdr Molyneux and attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy.

The medal citation said: "Lt Cdr Molyneux, with complete disregard for his own safety, had deliberately made an effort to tackle the gunman, knowingly putting himself into extreme danger in order to try to safeguard others from personal injury.

"His actions were incalculably brave and were carried out in the highest possible service traditions of courage and selfless commitment, resulting ultimately in providing just enough disruption to the sentry's intent to enable him to be subsequently overwhelmed and disarmed."

Mr Smith and Mr Neill are also awarded the George Medal in the Civilian Gallantry List today for their heroic actions in grabbing the gun from Donovan.

They both believed the submarine was under terrorist attack and that the sailor would continue to fire until he ran out of ammunition.

The civic leaders managed to pin Donovan to the floor and fought to restrain him.

Mr Neill was injured in the struggle but managed to hold on to the gunman until military police officers arrived at the scene.

Their medal citation reads: "Both men placed themselves at great risk by choosing to tackle someone who had shot at least two naval officers.

"By their actions they prevented further shootings and possible death or injury to others on board the submarine."

Admiral Stanhope said: "Cllr Smith and Mr Neill showed tremendous bravery.

"The Royal Navy as a whole, the ship's company of HMS Astute and their families will always owe a debt of gratitude for their actions in preventing further death or injury on that tragic day."

The medals will be presented at a later date.