A TOP Southampton politician revealed how he thought he had been shot as he tackled a crazed gunman on board a nuclear submarine berthed in the city.

Tory leader Cllr Royston Smith told an inquest how he rushed at Able Seaman Ryan Donovan before wrestling the gun from him.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux died when the sailor, who had been acting as sentry on HMS Astute, fired a single rifle shot into his head from close range.

Cllr Smith, who was Southampton City Council leader at the time, told Southampton Coroner’s Court how he helped overpower the gunman, who is currently serving at least 25 years in prison for murder.

Cllr Smith, who served for 10 years as an RAF aircraft engineer, told the inquest how he was in the control room of the submarine when Donovan entered briefly before leaving again.

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.''

Cllr Smith, recalled how he then heard shots from the corridor.

He said: ''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 knew something was wrong.''

Cllr Smith said that Lt Cdr Molyneux then "walked briskly" from the control room to see what was happening.

He added: ''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.

"He had a lot of rounds left in that weapon. I assumed he would continue until someone stopped him and I had a duty to do that.

“I knew that if I could get close to him he couldn’t shoot me, but when I heard a shot in those circumstances and you feel a rush of heat which is probably adrenaline, it feels like you have been shot, and I thought I had been.”

Cllr Smith gave his version of events after a harrowing audio recording of the incident was played to the court.

Four gun shots were heard among shouts from members of the crew.

Lt Cdr Molyneux’s widow Gillian bowed her head and put her hand to her mouth as the recording was heard by the jury.