Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMS Astute nuclear submarine officer shot tackling gunman

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Media captionFather-of-four Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was shot at close range

A navy officer was shot in the head as he tried to stop a junior rating killing others on a nuclear-powered submarine, an inquest heard.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, was shot at close range on board HMS Astute while docked in Southampton in 2011.

The inquest into his death heard he would have fallen unconscious immediately and died shortly after.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan was jailed for at least 25 years for murder.

The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge, 45, who he shot in the stomach, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

Donovan's attack, on 8 April 2011, was only stopped when the then leader of Southampton City Council, Royston Smith, and its chief executive, Alistair Neill, wrestled the weapon from him.

'Snoring sound'

The inquest at Southampton Civic Centre heard Lt Cdr Molyneux suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said: "It would have caused instantaneous unconsciousness followed very, very shortly by death.

"The lieutenant commander would have known nothing about it."

The jury heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux was heard to be breathing, making a "snoring" sound, as he lay on the floor after being shot.

Image caption Ryan Donovan admitted murder and three counts of attempted murder

Dr Purdue added: "It's upsetting and emotionally distressing that someone horribly injured is still breathing but they are beyond help at that stage.

"As soon as he received that wound, he would have been out of it completely."

Dr Purdue said the position in which Lt Cdr Molyneux's body was found, face down on the floor, was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

Because he was a tall man, standing at 6ft 2in, Lt Cdr Molyneux would have had to lower his head forward in order to suffer the injury to the top of his head, Mr Purdue said.

He added: "It's not an unreasonable presumption that he's throwing himself, rushing forwards, moving towards him with his head down."

Donovan fired seven shots in total with his SA80 service rifle, the inquest heard.

The earlier crown court hearing heard that his intended targets were CPO David McCoy and PO Brown, who he held a grudge against.

Donovan was supposed to have cleaned a part of the sub but had disobeyed orders and was then refused a transfer to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay.

He had no grudge against weapons officer Lt Cdr Molyneaux but appeared to have shot him simply because he was trying to stop him, the court heard.

The inquest continues.

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