Royal Navy sailor to serve 25 years over submarine shootings

Ryan Donovan
Ryan Donovan
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A Royal Navy sailor has been ordered to serve at least 25 years for the gun murder of an officer and the attempted murder of three other crew onboard the nuclear submarine HMS Astute in Hampshire.

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, 23, of Hillside Road, Dartford, Kent, admitted shooting Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, with an SA80 rifle while the sub was docked on April 8 this year.

SCENE HMS Astute docked in Southampton

SCENE HMS Astute docked in Southampton

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 the city.

Donovan fired the SA80 six times in the control room of the sub, aiming at the four named victims and killing Weapons Engineer Officer Lt Cdr Molyneux.

It is believed Donovan was on sentry duty and the shooting happened during a weapons changeover between shifts.

Lt Cdr Hodge was also shot in the incident but he survived his injuries.

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

Mr Smith wrestled Donovan to the ground soon after he started firing at around noon. Describing his dramatic involvement, he told the BBC: ‘Two shots were fired, straight after he entered the control room again and began shooting again.

‘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.’

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.’