All sailors should face random breath-testing says coroner

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux who was shot on board HMS Astute
Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux who was shot on board HMS Astute
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A widow whose husband was shot dead by a drunk naval rating on a nuclear-powered submarine has welcomed a coroner recommending random breath testing for Royal Navy personnel.

City coroner Keith Wiseman told the end of the inquest into the death of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux that he would write to the navy about implementing it.

Lt Cdr Molyneux, from Wigan, was murdered by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, who was over the drink-drive limit and on guard duty on HMS Astute in Southampton in April 2011.

The hearing previously heard the 23-year-old killer drank 20 pints of cider and lager, cocktails and double vodkas in the 48 hours before he was put on a guard duty with the SA80 rifle.

Gillian Molyneux, whose 36-year-old husband received a posthumous George Medal for his actions, said she was ‘heartened’ the coroner would send her proposals to the navy, called for its own recommendations to be acted upon and said her husband gave his life to protect the boat and its crew and stop Donovan’s rampage.

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty; at the time sailors were allowed 10 units in the previous 24 hours with no alcohol in the 10 hours before duty, which has now been changed to five units.

Mr Wiseman recorded a narrative verdict that the officer was unlawfully killed and explained he would incorporate recommendations from Lt Cdr Molyneux’s widow into what is called a Rule 43 letter to the navy.

Those proposals include the random crew breath testing, the use of a breathalyser for all those going on armed sentry duty, a look at alcohol allowances while on board ships and, in particular, on submarines, work to tackle the culture of binge drinking in the Navy and the issuing of handheld breath testing devices to all personnel.

Navigator yeoman Donovan was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of father-of-four Lt Cdr Molyneux and to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, who was shot in the stomach.

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