British sailor jailed for nuclear sub murder

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British sailor was jailed for 25 years Monday for shooting dead an officer in a rampage on a nuclear-powered submarine that only came to an end when council officials overpowered him.

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, 23, pleaded guilty to killing Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, with an assault rifle when HMS Astute was docked in the southern English port of Southampton on April 8.

Donovan also admitted the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45.

Passing sentence at Winchester Crown Court, judge Richard Field told Donovan he must serve a minimum of 25 years in jail and described the shooting spree as a "murderous onslaught."

"Undeterred by the danger confronting him, Lieutenant Commander Molyneux moved forward to apprehend you and you shot him in the side of his head," the judge said.

"In killing that officer, you robbed him of a bright future within a loving family."

Prosecutor Nigel Lickley told the court Donovan had told a colleague more than a year earlier that he was planning a "massacre" in the submarine's control room.

He was also resentful after a more recent incident in which he was turned down for duty on another ship because he had disobeyed orders to clean part of the submarine.

On the day of the attack Donovan volunteered for guard duty while drunk and was issued with the SA80 rifle which he used to go on the rampage, firing four shots at the two petty officers who dived for cover.

Father-of-four Molyneux then stepped forward to tackle him but was shot in the head at close range and died. Donovan then entered the control room and shot Hodge, seriously injuring him.

It was only the quick thinking of Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neil, who were on a tour of the submarine at the time, that stopped further casualties, Lickley said.

"There can be no doubt they displayed remarkable courage that day -- acting against an armed man," said Lickley. "We will not know how many more he would have killed."

HMS Astute made headlines in October when it ran aground off the coast of Scotland and had to be towed home.

© 2011 AFP

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