A ROYAL Navy Chief Petty Officer has told how he jumped to safety as a gunman came towards him “squeezing the trigger” on a murderous rampage on board a nuclear submarine.
Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was killed by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan on board HMS Astute while it was docked at Southampton on April 8, 2011.
The 23-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux.
The navigator yeoman also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45, whom he shot in the stomach.
The court heard that his real targets, whom he also admitted to attempting to murder, were Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, from Whiteleas, South Shields, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, from Lobley Hill, Gateshead.
CPO McCoy told an inquest at Southampton that he believed he had a good working relationship with Donovan but, following a recent disciplinary action over a cleaning task, this relationship changed.
Richard Wilkinson, counsel for Lt Cdr Molyneux’s family, said four other sailors said that Donovan did not get on with CPO McCoy and PO Brown, and a previous captain said they had “rode him hard”.
Donovan was facing disciplinary procedures for disobeying orders and a transfer for an operational tour on RFA Cardigan Bay was cancelled, the inquest heard.
CPO McCoy said: “In his eyes, when he saw me and Brown, we were the bad guys – the ones who stopped him going on his operational tour.”
CPO McCoy, who previously gave Donovan a positive career progression report, said: “He had the potential to do well.”
He described how he witnessed Donovan being issued the weapon by PO Brown before the shooting incident. But he said he was unaware that Donovan was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Toxicology tests showed that Donovan would have had a blood/alcohol level of 139mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is 76% above the drink-drive limit, the inquest heard.
Donovan consumed 20 pints of beer and cider as well as four mojito cocktails, two bottles of beer and three double vodkas during the previous two days.