HMS Edinburgh sailor took gun to ask for leave

The incident involving an SA80 rifle happened while HMS Edinburgh was in Lisbon. Picture: Jane Barlow
The incident involving an SA80 rifle happened while HMS Edinburgh was in Lisbon. Picture: Jane Barlow
Share this article
Have your say

AN EDINBURGH sailor went to the cabin of a superior carrying an assault rifle and ammo to allegedly confront him over a request for shore leave.

The scene is reminiscent of a fatal shooting on board the submarine HMS Astute in 2011, a court martial has heard.

Leading Seaman Kevin Moffat, originally from Edinburgh, denies a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm and a second count of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline at the trial being held at Portsmouth Naval Base court martial centre.

Wing Commander Andrew McKendrick, prosecuting, told the trial that the 45-year-old had been drafted at short notice to serve on board the now-decommissioned Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh in the summer of last year. However Moffat had become worried because his partner was due to give birth in January this year – he previously missed the birth of a child with a previous partner five years earlier because he was unable to return while on service.

Mr McKendrick said that on September 28, when HMS Edinburgh was alongside in Lisbon, on its way to the Falkland Islands, Moffat took an SA80 service rifle and three rounds of ammunition from a weapons store and went to the cabin of executive officer Lieutenant Commander Robert Williams who was having a meeting with Lieutenant Sadie Gardner.

Mr McKendrick said: “The Crown concedes the defendant had been crash-drafted, notified at short notice, and he did have family issues but that doesn’t excuse what happened.”

The court was told that as Moffat appeared at the doorway with the rifle in his right hand and ammunition clenched in his left, he told Lt Cdr Williams: “Sir, you know me, this is a loaded weapon and it’s cocked. I want to talk to you.”

Lt Cdr Williams, 40, told the court: “He was very intense but his voice was mannered, he wasn’t shouting or screaming. He was serious, the way he had been staring at me. It was absolutely untoward, I was shocked.”

He added: “I couldn’t 
comprehend why he had done it. He explained that he still hadn’t confirmed he could get away on January 13 for the birth of his kid and he’d had a tough phone call with his missus the previous evening and the pressure was on.”

The incident ended when Moffat relented to Lt Cdr Williams’ order and handed the rifle over to another sailor who was just outside the cabin.

Matthew Farmer, defending, said that the incident had similarities to the shooting on HMS Astute.

On April 8, 2011, Able Seaman Ryan Donovan shot dead Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux and also injured Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge during the incident while on a visit to Southampton. He was later jailed for life at Winchester Crown Court.

Moffat denies threatening Lt Cdr Williams and says he told him: “Sir, you know me, this is not a loaded weapon, I want to talk to you.”

The court martial trial