SCOTSMAN, Wednesday, 12 June
of Hamilton gun renewals
McKenzie, who signed
firearms renewals for Thomas
Hamilton, leaves the inquiry.
Examiner who approved extension of firearms certificate
admits he lacked experience of handguns
SCOTLAND'S first civilian firearms
examiner yesterday admitted he had no experience of handguns
when he got the job with Central Scotland Police
less than a year before he renewed Thomas Hamilton's
35, told the Cullen inquiry he had worked
between 1981 and 1988 in a Glasgow gun
shop but had gained no experience of handguns
because the shop did not deal in them.
Before joining the force
in April 1991 he had been working in a whisky bond. When
he moved to Central Scotland Police he received
six months of training in the computer system for firearms
licensing and then in legislation.
said that when Hamilton's renewal application
came to him in January 1992, he was satisfied he still ought to have
authority to possess 1,500 rounds of ammunition for four or five years.
QC, for the Crown,
said exhaustive police inquiries since the Dunblane tragedy
failed to find any evidence of Hamilton having bought any ammunition
or five years.
said the reasons for requiring each of the firearms
and ammunition had been stated as target shooting.
He always checked in the case of handguns
to see if the applicant was a full member of a Home Office approved
asked what evidence existed that Thomas Hamilton
had taken part in competition shoots, said: "I know that the club
itself shot at other clubs and various ranges."
Asked why Hamilton
would need two Smith & Wesson revolvers
and two Browning pistols, Mr Lynch
replied that it was a back-up because semi-automatic weapons could jam.
In Hamilton's case, he said, they would be
used for competitions in his club and, he presumed, other club's competitions.
a retired police superintendent, told the
inquiry he had responsibility for checking
the accuracy of records held in the firearms
department at Central and the certificates themselves.
who signed Hamilton's renewals in 1989 and
1992, said he was unaware Hamilton had been
the subject of two police investigations.
asked whether having been shown the documents last week by the Crown,
he was surprised the information had not percolated through to the person
dealing with firearms, Mr McKenzie
replied: "Yes, I am."
asked about Det
Sgt Hughes's 1991 memo calling for Hamilton's
firearms certificate not to be renewed, which
never reached the firearms department.
Mr McKenzie agreed that it should have gone
on the department's file. "I would have expected it."
said: "Would it have made any difference to the renewal in 1992
if it had been?" Mr McKenzie
said: "In my opinion, no." The witness said that
he would not have gone back to look at evidence examined by the deputy
chief constable and marked for no action.
Dunlop, advocate for the bereaved families and injured
children, asked Mr Lynch if he would have
recommended against renewal of Hamilton's certificate
if he had seen Det Sgt Hughes's memo, without
knowing that the deputy chief constable had marked it for no action.
He replied: "The memo
from Det Sgt Hughes would have raised concerns
in my mind and from that I would have asked for further clarification
of a number of issues."
said: "Can you recall an occasion on which an officer submitted
a memorandum in which he said: 'This person in my opinion should not
have a firearms certificate because of the
type of person he is'?" Mr McKenzie
replied: "For the type of person, I can't recall any."
said Det Sgt Hughes's reference to Hamilton
being an "unsavoury character and an unstable personality"
would have been sufficient for him to have made further inquiries.
said: "When Sgt Hughes goes on to say
in his final paragraph he is a scheming, devious and deceitful individual
who is not to be trusted ... as a matter of common sense do you not
agree that such a person should not have a firearms certificate?"
said: "Whether it is common sense or not, my decision would be
based on the firearms act, and whether or
not I consider the person to be unfit to be trusted with a firearm.
I had no evidence to suggest that Mr Hamilton
would commit further offences using a firearm."
He agreed with Miss Dunlop
that Det Sgt Hughes's report was not "sufficiently
adverse" to have recommended revocation of Hamilton's
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