British seaman appears in court, charged with murder after shooting on nuclear submarine

Monday, April 11, 2011

An able seaman in the Royal Navy has appeared at a magistrates court in Southampton, England this morning, charged with murder and attempted murder. Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan is accused of shooting a crewmate dead in a Royal Navy nuclear submarine last week. One other crewman, Lt. Commander Christopher Hodge, was seriously injured in the attack and remains in stable condition at a local hospital.

I am satisfied that there is sufficient [evidence] to charge him, and that it is in the public interest to do so.

—Chief prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service, Wessex

Last night, the chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex confirmed that 22-year old Donovan, who served aboard HMS Astute, had been charged with killing 36-year-old Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux and attempting to murder three others; Petty Officer Christopher Brown, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge. "Having reviewed the evidence, I am satisfied that there is sufficient to charge him, and that it is in the public interest to do so," he said.

Over the weekend serious questions over the Royal Navy's recruitment policy were raised as it emerged he had changed his name to Reggie Moondogg and tried to start a singing career as a rap artist. Relatives of the alleged gunman criticised the Royal Navy for not allowing Donovan to leave the Astute after a confrontation with a number of other crewmen. One, speaking on condition of anonymity, said senior officers knew of Donovan's deteriorating relationships with several other crew, but failed to take action.

The shootings occurred on Friday when the submarine was docked in Southampton and a party of local dignitaries visited the vessel. It is alleged Donovan walked into the control room of the ship with an SA80 assault rifle and fired multiple shots, killing Molyneux and injuring another serviceman. Molyneux's widow, Gillian, has this weekend described Molyneux, a father of four, as "utterly devoted to his family".