OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) ACT 1921.
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
AT THE PUBLIC INQUIRY
INCIDENT AT DUNBLANE
on 13th MARCH, l996
THE HON LORD
MONDAY, 3rd JUNE, 1996.
DUMBARTON ROAD, STIRLING
(Shorthand Notes by Wm
Hodge & Pollock Ltd Glasgow)
COMRIE HESLOP DEUCHARS (68), Sworn:
MR. LAKE: What is your occupation?
- School crossing patrol and retired former BR employee.
it correct that you live at 5 Kent Road
in Stirling? - That is correct.
And that is close
to No. 7? - Upstairs, yes.
Sorry, is that
you are upstairs or 7 is.....? - No. 5 is upstairs. No. 7
How long have
you lived there? - Since l970.
Before I turn
to your dealings with Thomas Hamilton,
I would just like to consider your connection with the Scout
Association in general. When did you first join the
Scout Association? - I joined the Wolf
Cubs in l934 and remained in the Scout Movement
until I was officially retired in April l993.
In the early
l970s can you recall what your role was within the Scout
Association? - In l970 I was Group Scout
Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling Group.
In l97l, I was appointed Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts. In
January l973, I was appointed District Commissioner for Stirling.
were the responsibilities of the District Commissioner
with regard to the appointment of Scout
Leaders? - The District Commissioner has full responsibility
for the appointment and termination of leaders in
the Scout Movement within
If someone wished
to apply to become a Scout Leader, to
whom would they apply? - They would apply to me as District Commissioner.
what would you do with that application? - When you
are approached by someone to become an adult leader,
the procedure which is laid down in the Scout
Association Policy, Organisation and
Rules is that an Inquiry Form is prepared by the District
Commissioner and sent to our Records Office in order
to determine the person's character, whether they
are suitable or unsuitable for working with young
You said that
is what is done. Is that what was done in l970? - That is
what was done in the case of Thomas Hamilton.
did you first have dealings with Thomas
Hamilton? - I would say as a civilian
I visited his Do-It-Yourself shop on a few occasions
prior to him approaching me to become a leader.
That is his shop
in Cowane Street? - That is correct.
When did he apply
to you to become a Scout Leader? - I would
say it would probably be May or June of 1973. I am not sure
of the exact date.
Are you aware
whether or not Hamilton had any involvement with the Scout
Association prior to that date? - I had heard that
he was a Venture Scout with the First
Stirling, but as I did not visit Venture
Scouts, who are supposed to be a self-governing
body, to see that the thing was running well, I had no connection
with Hamilton as a Venture Scout.
What is a Venture
Scout? - As far as I know, yes.
is a Venture Scout? - Well,
he had his uniform and all the rest of it with the
First Venture, and I believe Scott Park, who was the
leader, confirmed he was a Venture Scout,
but not a regular attender.
age range do Venture Scouts
cover? - Venture Scouts
cover the age range -- well, at that time it was 16
years to 20 years.
Was he still
a Venture Scout at the time he applied
to become a Scout Leader? - No. I think
he had just actually finished his Venture Scout
period of service.
said in 1973 Hamilton approached
you to become a Scout Leader?
- He actually phoned me at home one night and I arranged
for him to come down and have a talk with me, so that
I could get the various particulars from him, i.e.
his name, address, date of birth, so that I could
send away the enquiry form.
that is the enquiry that has to be sent to Scout
Headquarters? - That is correct.
you do that in respect of Mr. Hamilton?
- I did.
And what was
the response? - As I did not receive a phone call within the next
24 hours it was assumed it was all right, but as I normally do,
I wait until I get written confirmation that a search has been carried
out and no record of any misdemeanours could be found.
that is a record kept by Scout
Headquarters? - That is correct.
that time what was your opinion of Hamilton's
character? - I would say he was young and very enthusiastic.
you happy to accept him as a Scout
Leader? - Yes.
are the responsibilities of a Scout
Leader? - Well, as his first appointment was that
of Assistant Scout Leader,
he was under the direct jurisdiction of the Scout
Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling,
and also under the Group Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling,
so he was only acting as assistant at that time.
when you refer to him being an Assistant Scout
Leader, was that after you had approved him? - That
And once he had
been approved by you, that would be when he was granted his warrant
book? - That is correct.
Was he able to
be an Assistant Scout Leader without that
warrant book? - He could have been on probation while his warrant
was going through, but until the warrant is actually signed by me,
it is an ineffective piece of paper. His service with the
Scouts actually begins on the date the
District Commissioner signs the warrant.
you had sent the enquiry to Scout
Headquarters did you make any further enquiries prior
to signing the warrant? - No.
you see Mr. Hamilton again
prior to signing the warrant? - No.
did you tell him that he had been appointed as an
Assistant Scout Leader?
- When I received the completed warrant book, as it
was known at that time, from Scout
Headquarters, I went along and presented it to him.
And can you say
again which Scout troop was it he was
appointed to? - He was appointed as Assistant Scout
Leader to the 4th/6th Stirling, which
met in the Episcopal Church Hall, Dumbarton
How did he get
on as Assistant Scout Leader? - From memory
he was very keen and willing to do this, that and the next thing.
In fact, there was an occasion when I was approached by Mr. Sim,
the Group Scout Leader, who unfortunately
is now deceased, that Thomas Hamilton
had offered to take some boys on his boat to Loch Lomond
for some part of their Proficiency Badge work. I said "Under
no circumstances until such times as that boat is certified by someone
in authority who knows about speedboats".
This was arranged
through Glasgow Scout
Council, who had an expert, and Mr. Hamilton
was given the name and address of this scrutineer, as I would call
him, and advised to make arrangements so that his boat could be
inspected. I received a report back from the gentleman in
question, and Mr. Hamilton was declined
a certificate on the grounds that (a) there were insufficient lifejackets/something
aids -- I can't remember the words.
aids? - Buoyancy aids, that is it -- insufficient
lifejackets/buoyancy aids, no distress flares and
no oars in the event of the engine breaking down on
the boat, and also his knowledge of the waters of
Loch Lomond was rather scant.
And that is in
relation to his seacraft or boatcraft? - Yes.
information about how he performed within the 4th/6th
Troop -- did that come from the Scout
Leader? - Yes.
Who was the Scout
Leader? - I think if I remember it was a Mr. Montgomery
he was the source of your information? - Yes, and
also from Mr. Sim, who was the Group Scout
Is Mr. Stevenson
still with the Scout Association? - No,
he is not. He left, and stays somewhere in the St. Ninian's
you have any problems with Mr. Hamilton
as a Scout Leader at the
4th/6th Stirling? - No
How long did
he stay at the 4th/6th Stirling? - Well,
on the information I received from Mr. Sim and Mr. Stevenson,
during September, or the beginning of October, I had had a conversation
with Father McAllister of the Roman
Catholic Church in Bannockburn,
who wanted to resurrect the former 24th Stirlingshire,
which was a closed sponsored group attached to the Roman
Catholic Church. I pointed out to Father
McAllister that there were no Roman Catholic
leaders available, and he said "I am quite willing to accept
a Protestant leader, as long as they run the troop, and I will look
after the religious aspect of the boys within the group". And
with that, and with the reports I received on Thomas
Hamilton, I took it upon myself to give him a six
months' secondment to start up and organise the troop at Bannockburn.
Is it correct
that problems occurred while he was at the 24th Stirling
Troop? - They did start to appear, but at the beginning I put it
down to, shall we say, being inexperienced. His play
times were somewhat stretched some nights, and there didn't seem
to be much Scout work being done. So
I reprimanded him, and things improved for a few weeks.
A more serious
complaint was made, however, when he took some boys up to the hills?
- That is correct.
Was that complaint
made to you? - It was, by the parents of the boys who had been on
What were they
complaining of? - They were complaining that the boys had arrived
home on the Sunday very cold and hungry due to the fact that they
had been forced to sleep in the van overnight, and the temperature
had dropped so dramatically that the van had frozen up and had to
be towed to Aviemore to be defrosted.
did you do in response to the complaint? - Well, after
investigating and going round all the parents involved
I then told Mr. Hamilton
that his planning abilities were rather lacking, and
in future he should double check everything -- because
his excuse was that the accommodation had been double
booked, and he didn't want to disappoint the boys,
so he let them sleep in the van overnight.
you warned Hamilton about
his behaviour, but took it no further? - That is correct.
And there was
a second complaint made not long after that? - Yes, within three
weeks the boys again arrived home, but this time their sleeping
bags were soaking wet, all their clothing was wet, and once again
they had slept in the van.
Who made the
complaint on that occasion? - The parents of the boys who had attended.
What did you
do in response to it? - I once again went round and visited both
the boys and their parents, and got their story, and one parent
had produced a copy of the programme which Mr. Hamilton
had issued on both occasions, and it clearly stated that the boys
would be accommodated in the former railway hostel at Aviemore. Being
a B.R. employee I immediately phoned my counterpart at Aviemore,
obtained the phone number of the hostel, and confirmed with the
owner of the hostel that no booking had been made at all by Mr.
Hamilton in his name or in the name of
the 24th Scout Group on either of the
you speak to Hamilton about
this? - I did.
What did he say?
- I told him after that that in view of his lack of qualities in
leadership that I considered his services were no longer required
in Scouting, and that I was withdrawing his warrant.
So what was the actual reason for withdrawing the
warrant? - For the lack of planning and irresponsibility
of Thomas Hamilton in putting
young boys at risk.
That was at risk
from cold? - That was correct.
Did you have
any reason to suspect that he intended to cause harm to any of the
boys in any way? - No reason whatsoever.
Did you have
any reason to suspect there may be improper sexual motives in what
he was doing? - None whatsoever, because when I asked the boys,
the boys said "Oh, it was all right for Mr. Hamilton. He
went on the front bench seat on the van with his sleeping bag and
blankets, and we had to sleep on the cold steel floor".
you tell Hamilton that you
were withdrawing his warrant? - I did.
What was his
response? - His response was "It is your decision. I
will resign" -- and he walked away from me then. Following
that I submitted a form to Headquarters saying I did not consider
him a suitable applicant due to his immaturity and irresponsibility.
what was the purpose of submitting that to Scout
Headquarters? - To ensure that he did not get another
warrant in the Scout Association.
How would he
be prevented from getting another warrant? - Well, the minute the
application was filled up and sent to Headquarters, they would check
the list again and say, "No, no, your warrant is declined."
the Scout Headquarters keep
a list of persons they consider unsuitable to hold
a warrant? - That is correct.
And is that referred
to as the blacklist within the Scouting Association? - That is what
is called, the blacklist.
Could I ask you
to look at a document which is DCRC AL/B1/F1/1. It is
D27 in H4. I think there is not a copy of it other than this one
-- there is a copy available now. That is a letter addressed
from Mr. Hamilton, from an address at
Cowane Street in Stirling, and is dated
the 28th April, 1974. It states: "Dear Sir, I tender
my resignation as Scout Leader of the
24th Stirlingshire Scout
Troop. Firstly I disapprove of your behaviour as District
Commissioner, in the underhand way you conduct Scouting business. Having
helped at your summer camp, I was appalled at the conditions of
safety, hygiene and equipment. I was shocked in your openly
buying six bottles of cider and six bottles of wine for the consumption
of young boys, and in the way it is common practice for all the
Leaders to disappear to the pubs at night and leave the boys unsupervised".
to the District Commissioner in that letter would be a reference
to you? - That is correct.
So this letter
appears to have been written to you? - Well, may I say I can't recall
having received that letter.
never received that letter from Mr. Hamilton
at the time? - Not that I can remember.
you had terminated Mr. Hamilton's
warrant what was the next time you saw him? - About
12 years later when a furniture van appeared at the
gate of the block and Mr. Hamilton
got out and started unloading furniture into the empty
flat below where I stay.
So he was moving
in beneath you? - He was. I thought he was just helping the
old couple, but after the van left and he remained, my words at
that time were "My God, what have I done to deserve this?".
were the old couple, as you have called them? - The
old couple were who I was led to believe were the
mother and father of Thomas Hamilton.
Did you speak
to Hamilton and his mother and father
while they lived beneath you? - I spoke mainly to the old man, because
on one occasion he was attempting to cut the grass with an old hand
mower and I said "Look, Mr. Hamilton,
I will get the electric mower out and I'll tidy up the grass for
you in five minutes. Put that old mower back in the garden
shed", and ever since that day I have always cut the grass
you socialise with Hamilton's
father? - Yes, once we got to know each other, yes,
we met on a Saturday or Sunday in the Masonic
Lodge in Stirling.
you ever socialise with Hamilton?
Are you in a
position to say whether or not Hamilton
was a Mason? - I
don't think he was. I mean, talking to the gentleman
that I assumed was his father I would say that no, Thomas
was not a member of the Masonic
did you have discussions with Hamilton
while he was living at No. 77? - Mainly after he had
pushed his father out of the house and become sole
tenant of the Council flat.
When did his
father leave the house? - I would say three or four years ago.
what makes you say that Hamilton
pushed his father out of the house? - Because on occasions
-- it is a very quiet street, and on occasions, on
odd nights my wife and I would hear this gentle tapping
on the door downstairs, and this was the old man trying
to get in, and speaking to the old man later, young
Tom had deliberately locked the door and left the
key in the lock, and made the old man stand out there
for maybe ten, 15, 20 minutes, knocking at the door;
and the old man would knock quietly because he didn't
want to disturb the neighbours round about.
Hamilton's father ever complain
to you that he was being mistreated by Hamilton?
- He did.
What did he say
was happening? - On one occasion the black and white television
which was in the living room, according to the father, was removed
and put into the old man's bedroom, and a new coloured television
was installed in the living room, with strict instructions: "The
new television is for Thomas Hamilton's
use only." Under no circumstances could the old
man make use of this television.
And that was the way Hamilton
treated his father? - Yes.
You say when
his father moved out you had a discussion with Hamilton?
- That is correct.
Were there any
particular areas Hamilton discussed with
you? - The main area of discussion was between Thomas
Hamilton and myself was the Sports Club
or Boys Club or whatever it was that he ran at Dunblane. That
seemed to be his forte in life and it was very successful and I
remember saying to him on one occasion: "Maybe this is what
you have been looking for, Tom. It is your life", shall
he have any complaints arising out of his operation
of the Sports Club? - No,
according to him it was going very well.
Did he ever discuss
with you an incident arising out of a camp he held at Loch
Lomond in l988? - Yes, he was very upset that the
police had raided the camp and judged the camp as a Scout
Camp and not as the way he ran the camp and he was very distressed
and he was determined that he would obtain an apology from Central
Scotland Police for a mishandling of the incident.
he indicate to you that he blamed the Scouts
in any way for what had happened? - Never once.
Were you aware
whether Hamilton had many callers at the
house at 7 Kent Road? - There were one
or two but I wouldn't say he had many callers at the house.
Were these men
or women that came to the house? - Mainly men.
Would any women
visit the house? - There might have been one but that is about l0
years ago at least.
Did any boys
come to visit the house? - I have only seen young boys there once
and that was at the end of one of his camps or......... No, I think
it would have been after he had started holding his annual do at
Dunblane High School. A van drew
up, young boys got out, unloaded the van, straight back into the
van and away again.
So it was an
isolated occasion? - Yes, definitely very quick.
you recall an incident in which callers to the house
resulted in the police being called? - Yes, I do.
When was that?
- I would say probably May or June of last year. I heard probably
about 5 o'clock at night a very heavy hammering on Mr. Hamilton's
door and then a knock came to my door and this well-built lad in
his 30s asked if I knew if Mr. Hamilton
was in and I said: "Well, I'm very sorry, I can't tell you
one way or the other."
What did the
man do? - He said: "Well, we'll come back later."
Did he come back
later on? - He did. About 9 o'clock at night. I
heard the front door being hammered and kicked and I heard his back
door being hammered and kicked and the next thing I knew the police
had arrived and there were actually two men there and they were
put into the back of the police car. The police eventually
got Mr. Hamilton to open the door and
went in and had a few words, came out, spoke to the two gentlemen
in the car and then they got out of the police car and walked round
the corner as if they were going to another car.
you discuss that incident with Mr. Hamilton?
- I did.
Did he tell you
what had happened? - He said it was a misunderstanding about the
gentleman who came to his door. I think it was his stepson
and Mr. Hamilton had also I believe advertised
a photographic business which offered to take young lads photographs
and the stepfather had misinterpreted what the boy had taken home.
a camera business there. Were you aware that Hamilton
carried on a photographic business? - Well, some of the neighbours
told me that he had pushed business cards through their letter boxes
but I can't recollect getting one myself.
Did you ever
see him using a camera? - Yes, on occasions. There was
one occasion when I came home and he was in the front garden across
the road photographing some pansies as the lady involved was an
artist and she had tried to sketch the pansies so that she could
later do the pansies in water colour and he took photographs for
her and gave her the completed photograph when it was ready.
Do you know where
he conducted his business from? - I am assuming it was from 7
And you didn't
notice any people coming to and from the house in respect of this
business? - There were one or two cars came but I wouldn't like
to say that they were there at the business. I believe there
was one gentleman that Thomas Hamilton
mentioned to me that he had just sold a camera to, but that was
Did he ever discuss
any photographic assignments he was doing with you? - He did, because
he came out of the house one morning heavily laden with tripods
and camera cases and such like and I said to him, "Where are
you going, Tom?" and he said, "Oh,
I have got a conference to cover in Glasgow"
somewhere. I don't remember where it was and he said to me,
"I'm going away along to get the train" and I said "Throw
the stuff in the back of the car and I'll drop you off at the station",
which I did and that was it.
you saw one or two callers to the house, mainly men. Do you
know who they were? - One of them was a landscape gardener by the
name of James Gillespie and the other, I won't say frequent, was
somebody who I am assuming worked for STV because they were in a
blue Rover Estate with the STV insignia on the side of it.
you aware Hamilton kept
guns? - No.
Did he ever discuss
guns with you? - He brought a gun catalogue out once and whether
I had mentioned earlier that I had at one time been a member of
the Bridge of Allan Rifle Club, I said "Tom, I'm sorry, but
my eyesight is gone, using rifles and
that goes beyond me now."
Did you ever
go into No. 7 Kent Road? - I was only
privileged to visit the kitchen in No. 7 Kent Road.
I was never in any other part of the house.
In passing by
did you ever see into the house? - Only once.
did you see into? - For some unknown reason his front
curtains were open and I recall seeing maybe l5 or
18 pictures round his wall of what looked like class
photographs to me.
these photographs with a number of boys in each photograph?
Could you see
what the children in the photographs were
wearing? - No, I couldn't.
you aware of those photographs being removed from
Hamilton's walls? - Well,
I did hear that they had been removed but I couldn't
confirm or deny that statement.
you ever aware of him burning photographs? - Once
again, I was told that he had had a bonfire out in
the back garden and there appeared to be a smell of
celluloid but I was out that night and I just saw
the burning embers when I came home.
you know whether or not Hamilton
worked? - I don't think he worked after his Do-It-Yourself
Did he appear
to you to be short of money? - No.
What led you
to that conclusion? - Well, last year my wife had insisted that
we fit a security light (a) so that she could see to drive into
the garage and she also wanted another security light at the side
of the house so that nobody could stand at the corner and catch
her as and when she came out of the car. We got that
fitted and Thomas Hamilton came to the
door and said "That's a wonderful idea. I have a lot
of valuable equipment. How much did it cost?" I
said, "Well, the total came to about £64", so within
five minutes he was back at the door and handed me £32, 50
per cent of the cost and the same thing happened when I persuaded
him to connect an outside tap to his waterpipe, he paid 50 per cent
of the cost.
In your opinion
was he a good neighbour? - He was a very good neighbour.
Did you have
any complaints about him? - The only complaint I had was the state
that he kept his kitchen in and also that he refused to do anything
about his front garden.
said in l973 you regarded him as being suitable for
appointment as Scout Leader
or Assistant Scout Leader?
Did your opinion
of him change at all as a result of living so close to him? - Yes.
When did your
opinion of him change? - I would say just shortly after he had got
rid of the old man out of the house.
You say that
was about three years ago? - Yes.
What was your
opinion of him after that date? - I felt that he had no self-discipline
and he appeared to have no sense of responsibility.
Did he give you
any cause for concern? - Not against me in particular or anything
you see Hamilton going about
in March of this year? - Yes.
particular, did you ever see him making his way out
of the house carrying letters? - Yes. I think it was
either the Saturday night or....... no, it would have
been the Sunday night prior to the Dunblane
the 12th March did you notice a white van parked outside his house?
- Well, it wasn't actually parked outside his house. It was
parked outside between No. l and 3 which is two semi-detached houses
next to our block. That is where it was parked.
Did you see Hamilton
using the van? - Not on the Tuesday night. It was on the morning
of Wednesday the l3th that I associated the van with Hamilton.
was he doing with the van at that time that you associated
it with him? - He was scraping ice off the van when
I returned from the newsagent's to pop the Stirling
Observer through the letter box for
Did you speak
to him? - I did.
did you say? - I asked him to save my legs and to
save my feet getting wet in the snow would he put
the Stirling Observer through
our letter box so that my wife would get a read of
it in the morning.
What time was
this? - This was about 8.l5 in the morning of the l3th March.
Did he strike
you in any way as unusual at that time? - No, as I say, the only
thing that made me sort of wonder was that he was up at that time
in the morning because he wasn't an early riser.
you saw nothing unusual in him at that time? - No,
because when I proffered him the paper he said "Right,
Comrie, I'll do that".
you aware of rumours circulating in Stirling
and Dunblane regarding Hamilton?
- I was.
What were the
subject of these rumours? - There were rumours that he was sexually
abusing children and such like and so forth.
Where did you
hear these rumours? - From one of the neighbours following the camp
at Loch Lomond and I said to the neighbour
"Be very careful what you say. There has been no proof."
you have any reason to suspect Hamilton
was in some way mistreating children? - None whatsoever.
Are you aware
that Hamilton ever blamed you for circulating
rumours? - I did hear from my counterpart in the Trossachs,
Dr David Vass, that some letters had gone
to parents in Dunblane saying that I,
along with other members of the Scout officials, had spread malicious
rumours about him but at the same time I also understand that there
was another letter went to the parents of Dunblane
that if they wanted a character reference then they could contact
me and I would be only too willing to supply a character reference
on behalf of Mr. Hamilton.
Did he ever speak
to you and confront you with having, as he saw it, spread these
rumours? - No, none whatsoever.
BY MR. CAMPBELL: When asked about looking
into Mr. Hamilton's living room on one
occasion I think you said something to the effect that for some
unknown reason his front curtains were open? - Yes.
Do I gather correctly
from that that generally he kept his front curtains closed? - That
Even during the
day time? - Even during the day time, yes.
I think you told
us that you became quite friendly with Jimmy Hamilton,
Mr. Thomas Hamilton's adopted father?
- I did.
you would actually go for a drink to the Masonic
Lodge? - That is correct.
Lodge was that? - Lodge
No. 30 in Forth Street, Stirling.
you were asked by my learned friend Mr
Lake as to whether or not Mr.
Thomas Hamilton was a Mason,
I think you made some reference to remarks made by Jimmy
Hamilton in giving your answer that in your view he
was not a Mason. What did Mr. Jimmy
Hamilton say that caused you to be of that opinion?
- I wouldn't like to say. I don't know. Tom
just gave me the impression that he wasn't interested in anything
such as the Masons. I couldn't say
what inference James made of that. Sorry.
Hamilton a Mason? - He was.
In the same Lodge?
- No, he wasn't actually a member of Lodge
30. He was a member of Lodge 76.
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