HMS Astute death inquest: Council leader thought 'he'd been shot'

Royston Smith served for 10 years as an RAF engineer

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A former council leader thought he had been shot as he grappled with a gunman on board a nuclear-powered submarine, an inquest has heard.

Councillor Royston Smith was on board HMS Astute while it was docked in Southampton in April 2011 when Able Seaman Ryan Donovan started shooting.

He killed Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux before Mr Smith, who was on a visit with other dignitaries, helped disarm him.

Donovan, 23, was jailed for life for the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux.

Mr Smith, 48, told the inquest how he was in the control room of the submarine when Donovan entered briefly before leaving again. It was then shots were heard from the corridor.

He said that Lt Cdr Molyneux then left the control room to see what was happening.

The inquest was played an audio recording from the submarine in which the shots and a shout could be heard.

Mr Smith said he believed the cry was Lt Cdr Molyneux shouting at Donovan.

'Shot was discharged'

When Donovan returned, Mr Smith said he realised those in the control room were "in some trouble".

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan Ryan Donovan admitted murder and three counts of attempted murder

"My thought processes were that he had a lot of rounds left in that weapon and we do not know what people do when they are unstable and I assumed it would continue until someone stopped him and I was facing him and I felt I had a duty to do that.

"I thought if I can get close to him he can't shoot me, if it's a knife it's a completely different ball game."

Mr Smith, who served for 10 years as an RAF aircraft engineer, said he suffered bruising to his body and a shoulder injury as he wrestled with Donovan who was holding the SA80 automatic rifle at waist level.

He said: "It wasn't easy, he did resist me.

"As I remember it, another shot was discharged while I was grappling with him to take the gun off him.

"I thought at that time I had been shot which is why I felt it was more important to stop him."

Mr Smith was assisted by the council's chief executive, Alistair Neill, in taking the weapon from Donovan.

The inquest previously heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head, six inches from his right ear, fired from 5cm away.

The inquest continues.

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