20 years of missed warnings that left Hamilton
free to kill
LUCY ADAMS and TOM
GORDON October 04 2005 LINK
POLICE did not carry out routine checks
on two decades of criminal intelligence about Thomas Hamilton which
could have prevented the Dunblane massacre. LINK
Secret files released to the public for the first
time yesterday reveal numerous criminal allegations were held on file
against the man responsible for killing 16 children and their teacher,
but officers failed to revoke his firearms certificate.
A report by the former deputy chief constable of
Strathclyde Police showed investigations into Hamilton's behaviour
and allegations of child abuse and impropriety with guns dated back
to the early 1970s. LINK
However, these were not checked when he applied for his certificate
to be renewed.
Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium
on March 13, 1996 and opened fire using weapons he was licensed to
Also included in the 3000-plus files, was the revelation
that the date was a final deadline for Hamilton paying council tax
arrears of £228.98, and was the last day before the then Central
Regional Council executed a warrant allowing it to freeze at source
any wages he might have, and his bank account.
Lord Cullen's inquiry had already heard of the growing
desperation of Hamilton as he struggled with rising debt and speculation
about his sexuality. A financial analysis showed he had total
bank and building society assets of three pence, an overdraft of £6472,
and owed £1500 to Barclaycard and £722 on a Debenhams
charge card. He had very little income.
The files from the inquiry into the massacre were
to be kept confidential for 100 years to protect the families of the
victims but, in the face of public pressure, ministers and the lord
advocate decided to release them with the names of witnesses removed.
[Ed ~ The public were told that the
reason for the (nonstatutory, therefore illegal) closure order was
to protect the names of child sex abuse victims.]
They show a litany of allegations raised about Hamilton
and failures by the police, procurators fiscal and local authorities
to act upon them.
He was first granted a firearms certificate in 1977,
"albeit during the 1970s he was investigated by police following
allegations of indecent conduct towards boys", one of the files
The Strathclyde Police report explains that responsibility for checking
and disseminating intelligence held on Hamilton fell "between
two stools" and that there was no evidence his file had been
consulted by divisional commanders before approval.
The newly released information also indicates earlier
intelligence and "pertinent details" on allegations were
later removed from police files in line with their routine "weeding
Contrary to firearms policy at the time, officers
routinely failed to check his membership of gun clubs, ambiguities
in his references, and intelligence held on him.
In August 1988, Hamilton is alleged to have made
veiled threats to a woman by stating he had four guns and saying she
should watch what she said to the police. The report found this
information was not contained in his file.
Later the same year, he is alleged to have handed
out handguns and semi-automatic weapons to the sons of a family he
knew. This was reported to Lothian and Borders Police but neither
a witness nor Hamilton were interviewed.
The files also reveal that, despite investigations
by police into three of his boys' camps after allegations of verbal
and physical abuse, the procurators fiscal took no proceedings.
In 1989, a police officer filed a report suggesting he had committed
lewd and libidinous offences and called for a warrant to search his
house for photos of boys forced to wear swimming trunks. The
fiscal said there was insufficient evidence. LINK
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