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".
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.
"He is a scheming,
devious and deceitful individual who is not to be trusted."
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.
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
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.
Inspector Hughes said that neither he, nor
the officer who interviewed the child, had any reason
to disbelieve that the allegations were wholly true.
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
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."
said: "Ultimately, tragically, Hughes
was proved to be correct." Supt Holden
said: "I don't think anyone could speak against that now."
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."