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Sailor in court over sub shootings

A Royal Navy sailor is due to make his first crown court appearance accused of the murder of a colleague and the attempted murders of three other crew on board a nuclear submarine.

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, 22, of Hillside Road, Dartford, Kent, was remanded in custody at Southampton Magistrates' Court on Monday until the hearing at Winchester Crown Court.

Donovan has been charged with the murder of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, who was fatally shot on board HMS Astute while it was docked in Southampton, Hampshire, on Friday.

He has also been charged with the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge, 45.

The hearing is the first chance that the defendant is able to make an application for bail although it is unclear at this stage whether he will do so.

The hearing on Monday was told by Nick Hawkins, chief prosecutor for Hampshire Crown Prosecution Service, that the Director of Service Prosecutions had agreed to hand over jurisdiction of the case to the civilian courts.

Mr Hawkins said that the allegation against Donovan was that he fired an SA80 rifle six times, aiming at the four named victims, killing Lt Cdr Molyneux.

Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow, Gillian, described the father-of-four from Wigan as "utterly devoted to his family". She added: "Everything he did was for us. He was very proud to be an officer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service."

The shootings took place as local dignitaries, including the city council's mayor, chief executive and leader, were being given a tour of the submarine while it was berthed at the Eastern Docks on a five-day official visit to the Hampshire city.

HMS Astute was cleared to leave Southampton on Monday afternoon to return to its base at Faslane, Scotland.

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