Sailor's actions 'had HMS Astute gun murder similarities'

Portsmouth Naval Base The trial is taking place at Portsmouth Naval Base court martial centre

A sailor threatened a superior officer with a rifle in a scenario reminiscent of a fatal shooting on the submarine HMS Astute, a court martial has heard.

Leading Seaman (Above Water Warfare) Kevin Moffat, 45, denied a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

He also denied a second count of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, at the trial at Portsmouth Naval Base court martial centre.

The threat is alleged to have happened last September aboard HMS Edinburgh.

Wing Commander Andrew McKendrick, prosecuting, told the trial the Royal Navy sailor, originally from Edinburgh, had been drafted at short notice to serve onboard the now-decommissioned Type 42 destroyer, last summer.

The court heard he had become worried because his partner was pregnant and due to give birth in January this year.

'Absolutely untoward'

Mr Moffat had previously missed the birth of a child with a previous partner because he was unable to return while on service, the court was told.

Mr McKendrick said that on 28 September, when HMS Edinburgh was alongside Lisbon, Portugal, Mr Moffat took an SA80 service rifle and three rounds of ammunition from a weapons store, and went to the cabin of executive officer Lt Cdr Robert Williams.

The court heard Mr Moffat told Lt Cdr Williams: "Sir, you know me, this is a loaded weapon and it's cocked. I want to talk to you."

Lt Cdr Williams asked him to hand over the rifle to another rating who was outside the cabin, which Mr Moffat did.

"He was very intense but his voice was mannered, he wasn't shouting or screaming," said Lt Cdr Williams.

"[However] it was absolutely untoward, I was shocked."

Lt Cdr Williams said he asked Mr Moffat "What's going on, what have you done?".

"He explained that he still hadn't confirmed he could get away on January 13 for the birth of his kid and he'd had a tough phone call with his missus the previous evening and the pressure was on," Lt Cdr Williams said.

'Under threat'

Matthew Farmer, defending, said the incident had similarities to the shooting onboard HMS Astute, on 8 April 2011 in Southampton.

Mr Farmer asked Lt Cdr Williams: "Did you feel under threat?", to which he replied: "Yes."

Mr Moffat claims he had removed the rifle and the three ammunition rounds from the vessel's gun store, in order to clean them.

He denies threatening Lt Cdr Williams and says he told him: "Sir, you know me, this is not a loaded weapon, I want to talk to you."

In the HMS Astute case, Able Seaman Ryan Donovan shot dead Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux and also injured Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge while the vessel was alongside.

He was later jailed for life, after a trial at Winchester Crown Court, to serve at least 25 years for murder and three counts of attempted murder.

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