Navy officer 'unlawfully killed' in submarine shooting

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan shot Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux at close range on HMS Astute in Southampton

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A navy officer was unlawfully killed by a junior rating on board a nuclear submarine, a coroner has said.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 23, shot Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, at close range on HMS Astute in Southampton.

He had been on a two-day drinking binge before the attack in April 2011.

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Keith Wiseman said he would recommend that random breath testing for Royal Navy personnel be implemented.

Donovan was jailed for life in September 2011 with a minimum term of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of the father-of-four.

The 23-year-old, of Hillside Road, also admitted the attempted murders of Lt Cdr Hodge, 45, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

Capt Phil Buckley said the Royal Navy had "learnt lessons"

Mr Wiseman said it was "a miracle" no-one else had died during the gun rampage during a civic visit by Southampton's mayor and also schoolchildren who had just left when Donovan started firing.

Vodka and cocktails

He said a culture of drinking to excess had to stop, and a system of alcohol testing prior to duty should be introduced.

The inquest at Southampton Civic Centre heard Donovan had drunk more than 20 pints of cider and lager over two days prior to the attack.

He had also drunk vodka and cocktails before being put on guard duty with a gun while more than three times above the alcohol limit for driving.

Tests revealed Donovan's blood would have contained 139mg of alcohol per 100ml - 76% above the drink-drive limit.

Police investigating the murder were so concerned about binge drinking by the crew while ashore, that the senior officer wrote to Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Alex Marshall to highlight the issue and it was passed to military authorities.

Gillian Molyneux said she was "heartened" by the coroner's decision to endorse random breath testing

Lt Cdr Molyneux suffered a single gunshot wound to the top of his head, six inches above his right ear, fired from 5cm away.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said the position in which he was found, lying face down on the floor, was consistent with him rushing forward to tackle the gunman.

Lt Cdr Molyneux received a posthumous George Medal for his actions.

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty.

At the time sailors were allowed 10 units in the previous 24-hours with no alcohol in the 10 hours before duty. This has now been changed to five units.

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