Sailor threatened superior officer with rifle on board warship

25/5/2011 (MP)''HMS Edinburgh leaving Portsmouth on Wednesday 25th May 2011 heading to the South Atlantic for seven months.''Picture: Sarah Standing (111924-8229)
25/5/2011 (MP)''HMS Edinburgh leaving Portsmouth on Wednesday 25th May 2011 heading to the South Atlantic for seven months.''Picture: Sarah Standing (111924-8229)
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A Royal Navy sailor threatened a superior officer with a rifle on board HMS Edinburgh, a court martial heard today.

Leading Seaman (Above Water Warfare) Kevin Moffat denied two charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline at the trial being held at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The court martial heard the 45-year-old had been drafted at short notice to serve on board the now-decommissioned Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh last year.

But the rating was worried because his partner was pregnant and due to give birth in January this year.

Moffat had previously missed the birth of a child with a previous partner five years earlier because he was unable to return while on service.

Wing Commander Andrew McKendrick, prosecuting, told the court that on September 28, while HMS Edinburgh was alongside in Lisbon, Portugal, Moffat took an SA80 service rifle and three rounds of ammunition from a weapons store and went to the cabin of executive officer Lieutenant Commander Robert Williams.

Wg Cdr McKendrick said: ‘The Crown concedes the defendant had been crash-drafted, notified at short notice, and he did have family issues but that doesn’t excuse what happened next.’

The court was told that as Moffat appeared at the doorway with the rifle in his right hand and ammunition clenched in his left, he told Lt Cdr Williams: ‘Sir, you know me, this is a loaded weapon and it’s cocked. I want to talk to you.’

Lt Cdr Williams, who at the time was having a meeting in his cabin with the ship’s deputy logistics officer Lt Sadie Gardner, asked if Lt Gardner could leave and Moffat agreed.

He then asked him to hand over the rifle to another rating who was just outside the cabin, which Moffat did.

Lt Cdr Williams, 40, told the court: ‘He was very intense but his voice was mannered, he wasn’t shouting or screaming.’

He added: ‘He was serious, the way he had been staring at me.

‘It was absolutely untoward, I was shocked.’

He added: ‘I couldn’t comprehend why he had done what he had done.

‘I asked him “What’s going on, what have you done?”.

‘He explained that he still hadn’t confirmed he could get away on January 13 for the birth of his kid and he’d had a tough phone call with his missus the previous evening and the pressure was on.’

Lt Cdr Williams said he had been made aware of Moffat’s personal situation after speaking with him previously and had discussed it with the relevant people on board.

Lt Gardner said: ‘Initially I thought it was an exercise, then I realised it wasn’t, because of his demeanour.’

She added: ‘When he told me he had a loaded rifle and it was cocked, I thought I was going to get shot.’

The trial heard Moffat had served in the navy for 25 years and had been a trained armourer since 1991.

He claims he had removed the rifle and the three ammunition rounds, which were rusty, from the store to clean them.

The weapon was neither loaded or cocked at the time of the incident.

He denies threatening Lt Cdr Williams and says he told him: ‘Sir, you know me, this is not a loaded weapon, I want to talk to you.’