Dartford sailor 'unlawfully killed' commanding officer on submarine, inquest rules

Dartford sailor 'unlawfully killed' commanding officer on submarine, inquest rules

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux and widow Gillian.

First published in Dartford & Swanley news by

DARTFORD sailor Ryan Donovan unlawfully killed his senior officer on board a submarine, an inquest ruled.

Coroner Keith Wiseman, sitting at Southampton Coroner’s Court, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing this afternoon.

He told the court how the Royal Navy’s culture of heavy drinking must stop if scenes like the fatal shooting of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, are to never be repeated.

It was “a miracle,” according to Mr Wiseman, no-one else died when 23-year-old Donovan, who lived in Hillside Road, began firing shortly after Southampton’s mayor and schoolchildren had left the vessel.

Mr Wiseman called for the rules to be changed to prevent any sailor drinking within 24 hours of going on duty and said he would be writing to the Navy highlighting 18 areas to consider.

He told the court: ''Random testing has some value. Anyone being drunk, or anywhere near drunk, on duty has, in my view, got to stop.

“It is an unfair responsibility to be given to someone carrying out little more than a spot check.

“In my view the routine use of the appropriate machinery to at least establish the absence of alcohol in the system is necessary as I'm not convinced the concept of heavy drinking on leave periods is likely to alter very much.

''On an intense personal note this criminal action has left one family bereaved in the most appalling circumstances.''

He said he would incorporate recommendations from Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow Gillian, which included random crew breath testing, the use of a breathalyser for all going on armed sentry duty and a look at alcohol allowances onboard ships.

The coroner said he was entirely satisfied Donovan was "drunk" when he began firing his SA80 rife on April 8, 2011.

The inquest heard Donovan had been drinking heavily in the 48 hours before he went on his shooting spree.

Donovan, who was 22 at the time of the shooting, is serving a life sentence for the murder of father-of-four Lt Cdr Molyneux.

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