Navy officer 'was shot tackling colleague on rampage'

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was married with four children. Photo:

A Royal Navy officer was shot in the head as he attempted to tackle a junior rating who went on a murderous rampage onboard a nuclear-powered submarine, an inquest has heard.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux would have fallen unconscious immediately after he suffered the gunshot wound in the incident on HMS Astute while it was docked at Southampton, Hampshire, on April 8 2011, the inquest heard.

Able seaman Ryan Donovan, 23, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach.

The crown court heard that his real targets, who he also admitted to attempting to murder, were Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

Donovan's attack was only stopped when the leader of Southampton City Council, Royston Smith, and its chief executive, Alistair Neill, heroically wrestled the weapon from him.

The inquest which resumed at Southampton today heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head, six inches above his right earhole.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said: "It would have caused instantaneous unconsciousness followed very, very shortly by death.

"The lieutenant commander would have known nothing about it."

The inquest heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux was heard to be breathing, making a "snoring" sound, as he lay on the floor after being shot.

Dr Purdue said: "It's upsetting and emotionally distressing that someone horribly injured is still breathing but they are beyond help at that stage.

"As soon as he received that wound, he would have been out of it completely."

Dr Purdue said that the position in which Lt Cdr Molyneux was found lying face down on the floor was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

He added that, at 6ft 2in, Lt Cdr Molyneux was a tall man and would have had to lower his head forward in order to suffer the injury to the top of his head.

He said: "It's not an unreasonable presumption that he's throwing himself, rushing forwards, moving towards him with his head down."

Dr Purdue added that because of gunpowder residue found on the injury, it would have been suffered at very close range.

Mark Mastaglio, a forensic firearms expert, said that from tests to replicate the residue, the shot would have been fired 5cm from the wound and the rifle would have been fired from waist level.

He said that the weapon used was a SA80 military high velocity rifle which fires rounds at 940 metres per second and when in automatic mode can fire 800 rounds a minute.

A total of seven shots were fired during the incident, the inquest heard.

The crown court sentencing hearing was told that Lt Cdr Molyneux, a father-of-four, known as Molly, had bravely tried to tackle Donovan after hearing previous shots from the SA80.

His widow Gillian, who attended today's hearing, has said previously that nothing could ever replace her soulmate and father of Jamie, Arron, Bethany and Charlie and "the heartbreaking sadness for the loss of Ian".

Donovan had been drinking while ashore and had volunteered for guard duty when onboard, because he admitted he was intent on killing the two petty officers who had reported him for disobeying a direct order to clean a part of the sub.

Donovan had been told he would not be leaving the sub for an attachment on another vessel because of his behaviour, and he had anger towards them, the crown court heard.

The amateur rapper, who called himself Reggie Moondog, was given the weapon and 30 rounds by PO Brown.

He turned the gun on him and CPO McCoy but the men dived for cover or fled.

Then weapons officer Lt Cdr Molyneaux, whom Donovan had no grudge against, turned up and a witness heard him say "What have you done?" seconds before he was shot.

The crown court heard that Donovan then moved into HMS Astute's control room which was full of local dignitaries visiting the vessel on a five-day goodwill visit to Southampton's Eastern Docks.

Horrified onlookers saw Donovan come with the gun at waist height and shoot Lt Cdr Hodge with a "wild" expression on his face.

Donovan was then wrestled to the ground by Mr Smith and Mr Neill and the gun went off harmlessly for the seventh time during the struggle.

When questioned by detectives, Donovan said: "I just felt that everyone was out to get me."

In mitigation, Christopher Parker QC said that Donovan, from Dartford, Kent, was immature and not mentally ill but he could not handle stress.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Field called the shootings a "murderous onslaught".

The inquest, which is being heard by a jury, was adjourned until tomorrow.

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: In the last line above, a 'jury' is mentioned. The case was heard by the Coroner, Mr Wiseman, and there was no jury.


 

[FIRST DAY]

Sailor killed trying to tackle submarine gunman from Dartford, inquest hears

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux.

A HERO sailor was shot in the head by his junior colleague from Dartford who went on a murderous rampage on a submarine, an inquest heard today.

Southampton Coroner's Court heard Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux would have fallen unconscious immediately after being gunned down by able seaman Ryan Donovan, who lived in Hillside Road, on board HMS Astute.

Donovan, aged 23, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux in April 2011.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, aged 45, who he shot in the stomach.

The crown court heard his real targets, who he also admitted to attempting to murder, were Petty Officer Christopher Brown, aged 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, aged 37.

Donovan's attack was only stopped when the then leader of Southampton City Council, Royston Smith, and its chief executive, Alistair Neill, wrestled the weapon from him.

The inquest which resumed at Southampton today heard Lt Cdr Molyneux, aged 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head, six inches above his right earhole.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said: ''It would have caused instantaneous unconsciousness followed very, very shortly by death.

''The lieutenant commander would have known nothing about it.''

The inquest heard Lt Cdr Molyneux was heard to be breathing, making a ''snoring'' sound, as he lay on the floor after being shot.

Dr Purdue said: ''It's upsetting and emotionally distressing that someone horribly injured is still breathing but they are beyond help at that stage.

''As soon as he received that wound, he would have been out of it completely.''

Dr Purdue said the position in which Lt Cdr Molyneux was found lying face down on the floor was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

He added that, at 6ft 2in, Lt Cdr Molyneux was a tall man and would have had to lower his head forward in order to suffer the injury to the top of his head.

He said: ''It's not an unreasonable presumption that he's throwing himself, rushing forwards, moving towards him with his head down.''

Dr Purdue added that because of gunpowder residue found on the injury, it would have been suffered at very close range.

Mark Mastaglio, a forensic firearms expert, said that from tests to replicate the residue, the shot would have been fired 5cm from the wound and the rifle would have been fired from waist level.

He said the weapon used was a SA80 military high velocity rifle which fires rounds at 940 metres per second and when in automatic mode can fire 800 rounds a minute.

A total of seven shots were fired during the incident, the inquest heard.

The crown court sentencing hearing was told that Lt Cdr Molyneux, a father-of-four, known as Molly, had bravely tried to tackle Donovan after hearing previous shots from the SA80.

His widow Gillian, who attended today's hearing, has said previously that nothing could ever replace her soulmate and father of Jamie, Arron, Bethany and Charlie and ''the heartbreaking sadness for the loss of Ian''.

Donovan had been drinking while ashore and had volunteered for guard duty when onboard, because he admitted he was intent on killing the two petty officers who had reported him for disobeying a direct order to clean a part of the sub.

Donovan had been told he would not be leaving the sub for an attachment on another vessel because of his behaviour, and he had anger towards them, the crown court heard.

The amateur rapper, who called himself Reggie Moondog, was given the weapon and 30 rounds by PO Brown.

He turned the gun on him and CPO McCoy but the men dived for cover or fled.

Then weapons officer Lt Cdr Molyneaux, whom Donovan had no grudge against, turned up and a witness heard him say ''What have you done?'' seconds before he was shot.

The crown court heard Donovan then moved into HMS Astute's control room which was full of local dignitaries visiting the vessel on a five-day goodwill visit to Southampton's Eastern Docks.

Horrified onlookers saw Donovan come with the gun at waist height and shoot Lt Cdr Hodge with a ''wild'' expression on his face.

Donovan was then wrestled to the ground by Mr Smith and Mr Neill and the gun went off harmlessly for the seventh time during the struggle.

In mitigation, Christopher Parker QC said Donovan was immature and not mentally ill but he could not handle stress.

The inquest, which is being heard by a jury, was adjourned until tomorrow.

Inquest into death of Royal Navy officer

The inquest has heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head Photo: PA Images

A former council leader has told an inquest how he wrestled to the ground a gunman who had shot a Royal Navy officer on board a nuclear-powered submarine.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, from Wigan, was killed by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan who went on a rampage onboard HMS Astute while it was docked at Southampton on April 8 2011.

The 23-year-old was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach.

The crown court heard that his real targets, who he also admitted to attempting to murder, were Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

Royston Smith, who was leader of Southampton City Council at the time, was visiting the submarine with other dignitaries and members of the public at the time of the incident.

A school party had just left the submarine when the incident happened, the Southampton inquest heard.

Mr Smith told the inquest how he was in the control room of the submarine when Donovan entered briefly before leaving again.

The 48-year-old said: "Donovan did come in very briefly into the control room but it was very briefly.

"Looking back on it, you might think it was quite unusual as his weapon had a magazine on it which you would never expect on a ship or a submarine."

Mr Smith, who served for 10 years as an RAF aircraft engineer, said he then heard shots from the corridor.

He said: "The first one I thought was an accident, when I heard the second I thought you do not accidentally release two rounds by accident - when that happened I thought something was wrong."

Mr Smith said that Lt Cdr Molyneux then left the control room to see what was happening.

The inquest was played an audio recording from the submarine in which the shots and a shout could be heard.

Mr Smith said he believed the cry was Lt Cdr Molyneux shouting at Donovan.

He said: "There were some shots, Mr Molyneux left the control room, there was that shout, then Donovan came back into the control room."

He continued: "I definitely knew we were in some trouble, my thought processes were that he had a lot of rounds left in that weapon and we do not know what people do when they are unstable and I assumed it would continue until someone stopped him and I was facing him and I felt I had a duty to do that.

"I thought if I can get close to him he can't shoot me, if it's a knife it's a completely different ball game."

Mr Smith said that he suffered bruising to his body and a shoulder injury as he wrestled with Donovan who was holding the SA80 automatic rifle at waist level.

He said: "It wasn't easy, he did resist me.

"As I remember it, another shot was discharged while I was grappling with him to take the gun off him.

"I thought at that time I had been shot which is why I felt it was more important to stop him.

"At that shot, we were in the upright position and swung around to the other side of the control room and then he was on the ground."

The inquest heard that Mr Smith was assisted by the council's chief executive, Alistair Neill, in taking the weapon from Donovan.

The inquest has heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head, six inches above his right earhole, fired from 5cm away.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said that the position in which Lt Cdr Molyneux was found lying face down on the floor was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

A total of seven shots were fired during the incident, the inquest heard.

The crown court sentencing hearing was told that Lt Cdr Molyneux, a father-of-four, known as Molly, had bravely tried to tackle Donovan after hearing previous shots from the SA80.

His widow Gillian, who attended today's hearing, has said previously that nothing could ever replace her soulmate and father of Jamie, Arron, Bethany and Charlie and "the heartbreaking sadness for the loss of Ian".

Donovan had been drinking while ashore and had volunteered for guard duty when onboard, because he admitted he was intent on killing the two petty officers who had reported him for disobeying a direct order to clean a part of the sub.

Donovan had been told he would not be leaving the sub for an attachment on another vessel because of his behaviour, and he had anger towards them, the crown court heard.

The inquest continues.

 


Booze crackdown after submarine shooting

[THIRD  DAY] 4 January 2013 England UK  Booze crackdown after submarine shooting

An inquest has heard how the Navy’s rules on drinking alcohol have been toughened up since a sailor went on a shooting rampage on a submarine in Southampton.

Ryan Donovan shot dead Officer Ian Molyneux and seriously injured another onboard HMS Astute.

Tests showed Donovan would have been over the alcohol limit for driving when he was handed a rifle to go on guard duty.

At the time sailors were allowed 10 units of alcohol in the 24 hours before going on duty; now they are only allowed 5 units with no alcohol 10 hours beforehand.



4 January 2013
Last updated at 17:09 [THIRD DAY]

Ian Molyneux inquest: Ryan Donovan had been drinking

 
Ryan Donovan admitted murder and three counts of attempted murder

A sailor who shot and killed a navy officer was over the UK alcohol limit for driving when he was handed a rifle for guard duty, an inquest has heard.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, was shot at close range on board HMS Astute when it was docked in Southampton in April 2011.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan was jailed for at least 25 years for murder.

The inquest heard he had drunk more than 20 pints of cider and lager in the 48 hours before the attack.

Dr Paul Williams, a forensic scientist specialising in alcohol, told the inquest at Southampton Civic Centre Donovan had also consumed cans and bottles of beer, as well as vodka and cocktails.

 

Chef Steven Bailey also told the inquest his friend Donovan appeared tired and drunk on the morning of the shootings.

He added he was surprised he had been given a firearm to go on guard duty.

The inquest was told Donovan warned a crewmate: "I'm going to kill someone today. I'm not joking. Remember - watch the news."

Leading Hand Colin Banks said he felt "horrible" he had not told anyone about the threat.

Donovan pleaded guilty to murder and to the attempted murder of Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

The attack, on 8 April 2011, was only stopped when the then leader of Southampton City Council, Royston Smith, and its chief executive, Alistair Neill, wrestled the weapon from Donovan.

Mr Smith and Mr Neill had been touring the vessel when Donovan fired six shots from an SA80 rifle in the control room.

The inquest also heard the Royal Navy's rules on alcohol consumption at the time of the shootings stated that individuals were allowed no more than 10 units in the 24 hours before duty, with no alcohol to be consumed 10 hours before.

This has since changed to no more than five units.

The inquest continues.


7TH JANUARY [FOURTH DAY]

Copyright of BBC TV South Today taken from the 1830 News Bulletin

  This is a picture of the Commanding Officer of HM S/M ASTUTE at the time of the incident, Commander  Iain Breckenbridge RN
                                                                                                                             
SOUTH TODAY 8TH JAN _PG01_M001.swf        CLICK ON THE LINK TO THE LEFT TO  START THIS MOVIE



8TH JANUARY [FIFTH DAY]

Nuclear sub inquest continues

A Royal Navy chief petty officer has told an inquest how he jumped to safety between decks as a gunman came towards him "squeezing the trigger" on a murderous rampage on board a nuclear-powered submarine docked in Southampton

- 3.30 PM

Nuclear sub killer 'had potential to do well'

HMS Astute docked in Southampton Credit: ITV Meridian

A Royal Navy chief petty officer has told an inquest how he jumped to safety between decks as a gunman came towards him "squeezing the trigger" on a rampage on board a nuclear-powered submarine docked in Southampton.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was killed by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan on board HMS Astute on April 8, 2011.

The 23-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach.

The court heard that his real targets were Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

CPO McCoy told the inquest at Southampton that he believed he had a good working relationship with Donovan but following a recent disciplinary action over a cleaning task, this relationship changed.

Donovan was facing disciplinary procedures for disobeying orders and a transfer for an operational tour on RFA Cardigan Bay was cancelled, the inquest heard.

CPO McCoy said: "In his eyes, when he saw me and Brown we were the bad guys, the ones who stopped him going on his operational tour."

CPO McCoy, who previously gave Donovan a positive career progression report, said: "He had the potential to do well."


 
Tuesday, Jan 08 2013 6PM [FIFTH DAY]

'He’s gone mad with a gun’: Inquest hears of moment Navy officer jumped to safety between decks as seaman launched murderous rampage on submarine

  • Ryan Donovan killed Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux on HMS Astute
  • Chief Petty Officer David McCoy was real target of gunman, inquest hears
  • Described seeing 'smoke coming out of the barrel' before jumping to safety
  • Told inquest that he could see 23-year-old Donovan 'squeezing the trigger'

By Mario Ledwith

|


Gunman: Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 23, went on a murderous rampage aboard HMS Astute targeting Chief Petty Officer David McCoy and Petty Officer Christopher Brown. He was jailed for a minimum of 25 years

A Royal Navy officer jumped to a lower deck on a nuclear submarine in an attempt to save his life as a murderous colleague approached him with a rifle.

Chief Petty Officer David McCoy described seeing 'smoke coming out of the barrel' as Able Seaman Ryan Donovan rampaged towards him 'squeezing the trigger'.

Donovan killed Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux on board submarine HMS Astute while it was docked at Southampton after two days of heavy drinking.

The 23-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach.

Donovan's real targets, whom he also admitted attempting to murder, were CPO McCoy and Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36.

The junior sailor became angered following a disciplinary action over a cleaning task he refused to carry out, an inquest into Lt Cdr Molyneux's death was told.

CPO McCoy said that he has previously held a good relationship with Donovan but this had changed when he was disciplined for disobeying orders and prevented from going on an operational tour on RFA Cardigan Bay.

CPO McCoy said: 'In his eyes, when he saw me and Brown we were the bad guys, the ones who stopped him going on his operational tour.'

He added that the navigator yeoman had the 'potential to do well', although counsel for Lt Cdr Molyneux's family told the inquest that CPO McCoy and PO Brown had 'rode him hard', according to other sailors.

Donovan consumed 20 pints of beer and cider as well as four mojito cocktails, two bottles of beer and three double vodkas on the previous two days.

Attacked: Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was shot dead while trying to tackle the gunman aboard HMS Astute, right. An inquest into the death heard how Donovan had been drinking for two days before the attack 

Toxicology tests showed that Donovan would have had a blood/alcohol level of 139mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is 76 per cent above the drink-drive limit, the inquest at Southampton heard.

CPO McCoy described seeing Donovan being issued the gun by PO Brown before the shooting incident on April 8 2011 but was unaware that he was under the influence of alcohol.

Other sailors told police that they saw Donovan arriving for duty in a clearly inebriated state.

CPO McCoy said: 'When he walked past me there was no indication he was 76% over the drink-drive limit whatsoever. If I had known, I would have stopped him.

Heartbroken: Gillian Molyneux, pictured arriving at the Civic Centre in Southampton to hear the opening of the inquest, said she and her husband Lt Cdr Molyneux were 'soulmates'

The CPO told how he saw Donovan coming towards him firing the SA80 rifle.

He believed Donovan was shooting at him and jumped straight down a ladder hole connecting decks.

'I looked round, saw Donovan walking towards us. I saw smoke coming out of the barrel. He was 10ft away, squeezing the trigger. I took a leap down a ladder to the lower deck,' he said.

The sailor then shouted: 'He's gone mad with a gun, get out of the way.'

 

He added: 'If I thought it was going to happen, I wouldn't have turned my back on someone with a rifle and 30 bullets.'

The inquest heard that Donovan was eventually wrestled to the ground in the control room by Royston Smith, leader of Southampton City Council at the time, who was visiting the submarine with other dignitaries and members of the public.

A school party had just left the submarine when the shooting happened.

Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head. Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said the position in which he was found was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

A total of seven shots were fired, the inquest heard.

The crown court sentencing hearing was told that Lt Cdr Molyneux, a father of-four and known as Molly, tried to tackle Donovan after hearing shots from the SA80.

His widow Gillian, who is at the inquest, has said that nothing could replace her soulmate and father of Jamie, Arron, Bethany and Charlie and 'the heartbreaking sadness for the loss of Ian'.


DAY 6 OF THE INQUEST WEDNESDAY 9th JANUARY 2013

THIS VIDEO WAS TAKEN FROM BBC SOUTH TODAY 1830 NEWSCAST.

 

Ian Molyneux inquest: Police concerns over crew drinking


 Father-of-four Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was shot in the head at close range

Police investigating a fatal shooting on a nuclear submarine alerted the military authorities over crew members' drinking, an inquest has heard.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, was shot by sailor Ryan Donovan, 23, on board HMS Astute when it was docked in Southampton in April 2011.

Donovan had been on a two-day drinking binge in the city, before the shooting.

The submarine's captain told the inquest there had been no signs of crew members being unfit for duty.

Richard Wilkinson, counsel for Lt Cdr Molyneux's family, told the inquest Det Supt Tony Harris, of Hampshire Constabulary, who investigated the shooting had however, been "highly alarmed" by the alcohol consumption of some crew members.

Binge drinking

Det Supt Harris said crew members had been in pubs and clubs in Southampton getting "drunk out of their minds". He wrote to his chief constable who passed on his concerns to the military.

The inquest previously heard Donovan had drunk 20 pints of cider and lager, cocktails and double vodkas in the 48 hours before he was put on guard duty with a gun.


 Ryan Donovan admitted murder and three counts of attempted murder

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty.

Cdr Iain Breckenbridge, captain of HMS Astute, said there were no signs of crew members being unfit for duty. He said anyone who had concerns about Donovan should have reported them.

He said he was "surprised" to hear of the police's fears of binge drinking by the crew.

He also told the inquest Lt Cdr Molyneux, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, was "phenomenally brave" in tackling Donovan who otherwise would have had the opportunity to shoot more people.

Cdr Breckenbridge said he was in another part of the nuclear-powered sub when he heard the shots.

George Medal

"I just knew we had to go in the other direction," he said.

"Unfortunately we did not get everyone out of the way."

When he returned to the control room he saw Donovan being restrained on the floor, Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge, 45, who had been shot in the stomach, being comforted and Lt Cdr Molyneux lying at a right angle with "catastrophic injuries to his head".

Lt Cdr Molyneux was awarded the George Medal posthumously for bravery.

Cdr Breckenbridge said Donovan had not said a word after he was overpowered.

"It was a shocking and harrowing experience to be involved in," he said.

"I do not think anybody could have spotted what he was going to do but whether he had been drinking and was unfit for duty that is a separate matter."

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan was jailed for at least 25 years after pleading guilty to murder and three counts of attempted murder.

The inquest continues.

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO START THE MOVIE

INQUEST SUB CAPT CALLED_PG01_M002.swf 

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty


 DAY SEVEN - THURSDAY 10TH JANUARY 2013

Thursday 10 January 2013