Shots heard at hero’s inquest

Gillian Molyneux arrives at the inquest
Gillian Molyneux arrives at the inquest

A RECORDING of a shout and shots being fired were played to a silent courtroom as further evidence was presented at the inquest of a murdered Wigan submariner.

A former council leader also told the hearing how he wrestled the gunman to the floor after the fatal shooting of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, since jailed for at least 25 years after admitting murdering the 36-year-old Springfield dad of four, had gone on a rampage onboard HMS Astute while it was docked at Southampton last April.

Royston Smith, who was leader of Southampton City Council at the time, was visiting the submarine with other dignitaries at the time of the incident. He told how he was in the submarine control room when he saw Donovan.

He said: “Donovan did come in very briefly, into the control room, but it was very briefly. Looking back on it, you might think it was quite unusual as his weapon had a magazine on it which you would never expect on a ship or a submarine.”

Mr Smith, who served for 10 years as an RAF aircraft engineer, said he then heard shots from the corridor, adding: “The first one I thought was an accident.

“When I heard the second I thought ‘you do not release two rounds by accident’ - when that happened I thought something was wrong.”

Mr Smith 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.

He said: “There were some shots, Mr Molyneux left the control room, there was that shout, then Donovan came back into the control room.

“I definitely knew we were in some trouble, 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 said that 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.

“At that shot, we were in the upright position and swung around to the other side of the control room and then he was on the ground.”

The inquest, which has so far been attended by Mr Molyneux’s widow Gillian, heard that Mr Smith was assisted by the council’s chief executive, Alistair Neill, in disarming Donovan.

The inquest has heard that Lt Cdr Molyneux suffered a single gunshot wound to the head from close range. Pathological evidence has suggested the victim was rushing forward to tackle the assailant when the shot was fired.