TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) ACT
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
AT THE PUBLIC INQUIRY
INCIDENT AT DUNBLANE PRIMARY SCHOOL
on 13th MARCH, l996
THE HON LORD CULLEN
MONDAY, 3rd JUNE, 1996.
THE ALBERT HALLS,
DUMBARTON ROAD, STIRLING
(Shorthand Notes by Wm Hodge & Pollock Ltd Glasgow)
ROBERT COMRIE HESLOP DEUCHARS (68), Sworn:
EXAMINED BY MR. LAKE: What is your occupation? - School
crossing patrol and retired former BR employee.
Is 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 is downstairs.
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.
What 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 Stirling
If someone wished to apply to become a Scout Leader,
to whom would they apply? - They would apply to me as District Commissioner.
And 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
You said that is what is done. Is that what
was done in l970? - That is what was done in the case of Thomas
When 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.
What 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.
What 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.
You 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.
And that is the enquiry that has to be sent to
Scout Headquarters? - That is correct.
Did you do that in respect of Mr. Hamilton? - I
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.
And that is a record kept by Scout Headquarters?
- That is correct.
At that time what was your opinion of Hamilton's
character? - I would say he was young and very enthusiastic.
Were you happy to accept him as a Scout Leader?
What 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.
So when you refer to him being an Assistant Scout
Leader, was that after you had approved him? - That is correct.
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
After you had sent the enquiry to Scout Headquarters
did you make any further enquiries prior to signing the warrant?
Did you see Mr. Hamilton again prior to signing
the warrant? - No.
When 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,
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.
Buoyancy 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?
Your information about how he performed within
the 4th/6th Stirling Scout Troop -- did that come from the Scout
Leader? - Yes.
Who was the Scout Leader? - I think if I remember
it was a Mr. Montgomery Stevenson.
And he was the source of your information? - Yes,
and also from Mr. Sim, who was the Group Scout Leader.
Is Mr. Stevenson still with the Scout Association?
- No, he is not. He left, and stays somewhere in the St. Ninian's
Did you have any problems with Mr. Hamilton as
a Scout Leader at the 4th/6th Stirling? - No problems whatsoever.
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 that trip.
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.
What 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
So 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 occasions.
Did 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
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".
Did 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 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."
So 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".
His reference 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.
You never received that letter from Mr. Hamilton
at the time? - Not that I can remember.
After 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?".
Who 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 for him.
Did 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.
Did you ever socialise with Hamilton? - No.
Are you in a position to say whether or not Hamilton
was a Mason? - I don't think he was. LINK
I mean, talking to the gentleman that I assumed was his father I
would say that no, Thomas Hamilton was not LINK
a member of the Masonic Lodge. LINK
And 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.
And 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.
Did 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?
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 we say.
Did 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.
Did 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
Do 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.
Did 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.
You mentioned 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 Kent Road.
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 it.
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 mentioned 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.
Were 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.
Where 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
Were these photographs with a number of boys in
each photograph? - Yes.
Could you see what the children in the photographs
were wearing? - No, I couldn't.
Were 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.
Were 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.
Do you know whether or not Hamilton worked? - I
don't think he worked after his Do-It-Yourself shop collapsed.
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.
You said in l973 you regarded him as being suitable
for appointment as Scout Leader or Assistant Scout Leader? - Yes.
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
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 like that.
Did you see Hamilton going about in March of this
year? - Yes.
In 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 tragedy.
On 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.
What 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 my wife.
Did you speak to him? - I did.
What 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.
But 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".
Were 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
Did 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.
CROSS-EXAMINED 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 is correct.
Even during the day time? - Even during the day
I think you told us that you became quite friendly
with Jimmy Hamilton, Mr. Thomas Hamilton's adopted father? - I did.
And you would actually go for a drink to the Masonic
Lodge? - That is correct.
Which Lodge was that? - Lodge No. 30 in Forth Street,
When 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? LINK
- 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
[Ed ~ How could innocuous conjecture
by the Lollipop Man, Robert Deuchars, be used later by Lord Cullen
as confirmation that Thomas Hamilton was not a Mason? LINK]
Was Jimmy 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.
[Ed ~ Lodge 30 is Ancient Stirling
(Stirlingshire), 6 Forth Street, Stirling FK8 1UE LINK
and Lodge 76 is Stirling Royal Arch
(Stirlingshire), Main Road, Bannockburn, Stirling. LINK]
No further cross-examination.
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