25 years for seaman who killed colleague

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, pictured with his wife Gillian
Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, pictured with his wife Gillian
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A Royal Navy sailor pleaded guilty to the gun murder of an officer and the attempted murder of three other crew onboard the nuclear submarine HMS Astute.

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, 23, of Hillside Road, Dartford, Kent, admitted shooting Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, a former Leyland student who grew up in Eccleston, with an SA80 rifle while the sub was docked in Southampton on April 8 this year.

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.

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

The barrister said Donovan fired four shots at the two petty officers from 10 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.

Donovan then entered the control room where Lt Cdr Hodge was shot.

Mr Lickley said: “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.”

Donovan, from Kent, was handed a 25 year sentence.

Lieutenant Commander Molyneux was former student at St Mary’s Catholic Technology College, in Royal Avenue, Leyland.

He was known to his comrades as Molly and lived in Standish, near Coppull, with his wife Gillian and their four children Jamie, 13, Arron, 12, Bethany, six and three-year-old Charlie.

As a child he grew up in Sagar Street, Eccleston, and went to Eccleston St Mary’s Primary School. Several members of his family remain in the close-knit village

Mrs Molyneux said: “I feel myself and my children have been cheated of a husband and a father - and that also the Navy have been cheated ... and Ian, from a hugely prosperous career.”