Sailor Admits Murders

A Royal Navy sailor been given a life sentence for murdering an officer onboard the nuclear submarine HMS Astute.

The 23 year-old also admitted the attempted murders of three other crew members.

He'll have to serve a minimum term of  25 years.

The court was told Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan could have killed more if local council officials had not tackled him.

Donovan, 23, of Hillside Road, Dartford, Kent, admitted murdering father-of-four Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, with an SA80 rifle while HMS Astute was docked in Southampton on April 8.

Donovan, who was put on sentry duty despite being drunk, fired the gun six times in the control room of the sub, aiming at the four named victims and killing Weapons Engineer Officer Lt Cdr Molyneux.

Appearing at Winchester Crown Court today, he also admitted the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, during a goodwill visit to Southampton.

Prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC told the court the death toll could have been higher but for the bravery of Southampton council leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill.

Opening the case, Mr Lickley, said Donovan had volunteered for guard duty while drunk.

He had been issued with the SA80 in a corridor after passing a test to see if he was sober.

The barrister said Donovan fired four shots at the two petty officers from ten feet away. They were not hit.

``Lt Cdr Molyneux reacted to the noise of the shots. As he turned to tackle the defendant he was shot in the head at very close range and died instantly,'' the barrister explained.

``That was shot five. The defendant stepped over the body of Lt Cdr Molyneux and continued his progress towards the control room.''

Donovan entered the control room where Lt Cdr Hodge was shot through the body and seriously injured.

``The defendant was then wrestled to the ground by the leader of Southampton City Council Royston Smith and the council chief executive Alistair Neill and prevented from killing anyone else.

``There can be no doubt they displayed remarkable courage that day - acting against an armed man.

``We will not know how many more he would have killed if he had not stopped.''

The shootings took place as local dignitaries 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.

Describing his involvement at the time, Mr Smith said: ``I ran towards him, I pushed him against the wall, we wrestled to take the gun from him.

``He fired again, I wrestled again to get the weapon from him. I pushed him to another wall, I wrestled him to the ground and managed to take the weapon away from him then others came to help to restrain him.''

The court was told Donovan had been resentful after he had been told he would not be attached to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay because he had disobeyed orders to clean part of the submarine.

He had been particularly upset with Petty Officer Brown and Chief Petty Officer McCoy over the incident.

But Mr Lickley said that the shooting spree had long been planned.

The previous year Donovan had told a colleague that he was trying to ``create a massacre in the control'' and the pair had discussed the computer game Grand Theft Auto, in which players took part in a ``kill frenzy''.

As he went back to the sub to start his duty after two days of drinking in Southampton, he told another crewmate: ``I am going to kill somebody.''

The colleague replied: ``Are you?''

Mr Lickley told the court: ``(He) thought he was joking but tragically he was not.''

Donovan sat in the dock dressed in a light blue shirt and wearing glasses. He was flanked by three security guards

Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow Gillian sat feet away and wept quietly as the circumstances of her husband's death were relayed to the court.

Donovan was described as ``immature and moody''.

He called himself Reggie Moondog and used to make ``gangsta rap'' music and boast that he would be famous.

One of his lyrics went: ``Tell the quartermaster. I caused disaster. SA80 - more palaver. It's another bollocking off the navigator.''