years before the massacre of 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane
Primary, a detective sergeant appealed for Thomas Hamilton's gun licence
to be taken away, warning his superiors: "He is an unsavoury
character and an unstable personality".
Paul Hughes, 35, now a chief inspector, said in a
damning internal memo: "He has an extremely unhealthy interest
in young boys, which to a degree appears to have been controlled to
date. Hamilton will be a risk to children whenever he has access
to them. LINK
"He is a scheming, devious and deceitful individual
who is not to be trusted."
Chief Inspector Hughes later learned that his superiors
had decided Hamilton should keep his guns because he had not been
convicted of any offence. He was never asked to elaborate on
his report and discovered that Hamilton's gun licence had been renewed
only months after his warning.
He also learned, within days of writing the memo,
that the procurator fiscal at Stirling had decided to take no action
on ten charges he wanted brought against Hamilton after a police raid
on a summer camp at Loch Lomond.
Yesterday, Chief Inspector Hughes told the Cullen
inquiry that he formed the view that Hamilton was a schizophrenic
with latent violent tendencies, adding: "I never imagined anyone
would have been capable of what happened on 13 March."
In 1991, Detective Sergeant Hughes was in charge
of the Bannockburn-based child protection unit of Central Scotland
Police and joined the investigation into allegations that Hamilton
had assaulted some of the boys, taken a number of photographs and
that there was a general lack of supervision at the camp.
He told the inquiry that he believed one boy in particular
was a favourite of Hamilton. "I felt this boy had been singled
out for special treatment, and was perhaps being groomed for future
abuse." He said a child claimed he had to pose in
various compromising positions, scantily clad, in extremely ill-fitting
trunks, for photographs.
Chief Inspector Hughes said that neither he, nor
the officer who interviewed the child, had any reason to disbelieve
that the allegations were wholly true.
"Convincing corroborative evidence was uncovered
which confirms that two boxes containing approximately 36 slides each
have not been recovered by police, despite Mr Hamilton's claims that
he handed over all the photographs taken."
He said: "I strongly suspected I was dealing
with a paedophile. To a degree his tendencies had been
controlled ... but I was concerned there were perhaps other children
we didn't know about and that at some point in the future the tendencies
would manifest themselves in physical or sexual abuse."
His memo went first to Det Chief
Insp Joseph Holden, who supported him, but asked his superior: "Do
we have any latitude for progress in revocation of his certificate?"
Det Supt John Millar noted on the memo: "While appreciating
Hughes' concern, I can't recommend the action proposed for obvious
reasons ... Hamilton has not been convicted of crime, and it seems
the fiscal is likely to take no proceedings." Deputy
Chief Constable Douglas McMurdo rubber-stamped that decision. LINK
Joseph Holden, now a superintendent, agreed with
Colin Campbell QC, that the Hughes memo was a "very clear, unequivocal
recommendation that Hamilton's gun licence be withdrawn".
Mr Campbell asked: "No-one reading that could be in any doubt
about Hughes's view on the matter?" Answer: "Correct."
Mr Campbell said: "Ultimately, tragically, Hughes
was proved to be correct." Supt Holden said: "I don't
think anyone could speak against that now."
Chief Inspector Hughes - later himself the subject
of an official complaint by Hamilton - said he had laid ten possible
charges before the fiscal. These were assault, breach of
the peace by shouting and swearing at the boys, putting their health
at risk and obstructing the investigation. He received an explanation
from a depute fiscal of the decision not to prosecute.
He said: "It wasn't felt it was a particularly
serious case, or the charges were a bit contrived, perhaps." He
added: "I didn't agree with that view and I had made my feelings
about Hamilton known during the course of the investigation.
Everyone knew how I felt."