Thomas Hamilton's home - lower flat
System identifier: ID: 16354

The Scotsman
14/03/1996

Headline: Thomas Hamilton :
Profile of a lone gunman
.

Byline: John Smith, Stephen Breen and Michael Paterson

Article: THE gunman who slaughtered 16 children and their teacher was a disgraced former Scout leader who was obsessed with guns and young boys.

Thomas Hamilton used to take photographs of boys wearing only their underpants, it emerged yesterday.

The 43-year-old bachelor, who was described by neighbours as "weird" and "solitary", also shot video film of young boys parading in their swimming trunks.  The walls of his bedroom were plastered with pictures of boys.

Yesterday Hamilton snapped after 15 years of what he saw was persecution from the local authorities, police and parents worried about what went on at his boys' clubs and summer camps.

For years it was the largely unspoken fear in the community that he was either molesting boys, or at least obtaining some sexual gratification from watching and photographing them half naked.

More recently, tired of years of police investigation, and council crackdowns on lets of premises, Hamilton circulated parents in Dunblane denying that he was abusing children.

What emerged yesterday was a picture of a homosexual who entertained a string of young men at his council home in the Braehead area of Stirling.   Hamilton had no convictions for sexual offences, but was cautioned by Lothian and Borders police some 18 months ago.

Hamilton ran a football team and youth club in Dunblane, and organised summer trips for youngsters.  He was a member of Dunblane Gun Club, and had a licence to keep weapons.

One parent whose son had been to summer camp with Hamilton at Loch Lomond said he told her that he had been at Hamilton's home and had been shown a rifle.

Former members of the football club described Hamilton as "a weirdo" and "a pervert".

Young members of the club described a bizarre ceremony which preceded the selection of the team.

John McFarlane, 17, said: "He was a total pervert.  He made me take off my top and show my chest size to see who had the biggest chest out of all the boys.  If you had the biggest chest you were allowed to pick the team.  I left just after he did that, that was it for me."

Andrew McInnes, 16, was forced to go through the same procedure.  He described how Hamilton would organise summer trips to Loch Lomond but he was not allowed to go because his mother had heard rumours about Hamilton.

Barry Nicol, 24, said that Hamilton ran a shooting range for boys between eight and 15.  "Everyone said he was a bit of a weirdo and there was speculation that he was a child molester.  He was a very slow and methodical man who used to pause between sentences when he was speaking.  He used to go round to see my parents to tell them about the club.

"He was quite well liked even though there was this speculation about him being a child molester.  When I heard he had done this I wasn't surprised because of what I'd heard in the past.  He might have cracked up but you can never tell about things like this."

A photographer from Stirling, Sandy Leathley, said he had learned of Hamilton's obsession for guns when Hamilton had employed him as a photographer for six weeks two years ago.  His work had included taking photographs of youngsters involved in sporting activities at three clubs run by Hamilton at local schools.

Mr Leathley said: "One day he asked if I wanted to see his two handguns.  He said he had some live ammunition as well.  I said no as he seemed to me to be very proud of his guns."

Yet Hamilton was told a month ago he was not fit to join a gun club because his behaviour had been dangerous at a trial for would-be members.  Three weeks into a six-month probationary period, he was asked not to come back to Callander Rifle and Pistol Club.

The secretary of the 50-a-year club, Raymond Reid, said Hamilton had not followed safe procedures when he was at the club.  "He would swing the gun around a wee bit, and not just point it in the same direction as everybody else.  If you do that once, you are out the door.

"We decided he was not fit to join - he was not a safe gun.  But he did have his own guns and the certificates to prove it.

Four police forces investigated Hamilton after allegations from parents about bullying by Hamilton at clubs he ran in Dunblane, Falkirk, Linlithgow and Alva.

Concerns were also expressed about his allowing youngsters, aged from around nine to early teens, to run around stripped to the waist.

A mother from Dunfermline said she had complained to the child protection unit at Fife police over reports she had received from her son when he returned from a holiday camp at Dunblane High School.

Among complaints passed to the police was one that Hamilton had spanked children if they were naughty; the complainer was eventually told no action would be taken because there was insufficient evidence.

A Dunblane mother recalled making a complaint to Central Scotland police along with a neighbour who had a youngster at a youth and football club run by Hamilton at Alva sports centre.  "He handed out leaflets for a school camp in Dunblane for kids who would show 'the correct aptitude'.  It became apparent that it was the quiet ones that he was choosing.  Then we became concerned when we heard he was taking pictures of half-dressed boys."

She continued: "My husband approached him, and he said there was nothing wrong.  He said that the police had it in hand, and not to worry."  [Ed. ~ Was her husband a Mason?  Dunblane has an exceptionally large percentage of its citizens in the Masons.]

She added: "He [Hamilton] gave me the creeps.  He told people he was married and he came to the pool one night and told me a boy there was his son.  I knew he wasn't".

It was The Scotsman which first drew attention to Hamilton - in November 1983 - when we reported that 70 parents in Dunblane had been bewildered by the abrupt termination of his let of Dunblane High for a boys club, Dunblane Rover Group.

Hamilton said that "serious allegations" - never spelled out - had been made about him.

In a letter to Central Region, with a 70-signature petition, a representative of parents of boys attending the club, complained that Hamilton had been the subject of "malicious back-stabbing."  All the parents, he said, were proud to have Hamilton in charge of their boys because of his excellent qualities of leadership and integrity.

Hamilton took the case to the Local Government Ombudsman - and won his case.  The Ombudsman, holding that Central Region had been guilty of an injustice to Hamilton, said "the evidence that the group was well run and was supported by parents was ignored in favour of complaints which proved to be little better than gossip."

The finding was to set Hamilton in conflict with Central Region, and disputes with other councils over lets for premises filled the ensuing years.

He was also to complain of persecution from Central, Strathclyde, Fife and Lothian and Borders police forces.

Concerns raised by parents over a summer camp on Loch Lomond in 1988 prompted an investigation by Strathclyde police and Central.  At the beginning of 1989, the procurator-fiscal at Dumbarton said he was taking no action in the case.

In May 1992, Hamilton wrote to his local MP, Michael Forsyth, now the Scottish Secretary.  [Ed. ~ Not to mention that Forsyth was President of the Board of Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, with which Hamilton had sinister connections.  Or that Forsyth and the Lord Advocate Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, chose the made-to-measure judge, perfect for heading the Dunblane Inquiry whitewash - within a day of the massacre.]

I have received today the formal reply from Central Scotland Police after a wait of six full months.  Nowhere in the letter is there any attempt to explain the initial need to demand, with threats, camera equipment, and the need to launch a pervert hunt on the basis that I take photographs of children."

He added: "It is one matter to look into a complaint of a bully being smacked on the back of the knees with the flat of my hand, and quite another to launch a pervert hunt on the basis that taking pictures of children is in itself a cause of concern."

Only last week, Hamilton, who had penned many thousands of words of complaint to chief constables, council leaders, and parents, was to write his final letter.  The former Scout leader, who never got over being forced out of the Scouts some 20 years ago - again with the reason never explained - wrote to the Queen.  [Ed. ~ The Queen is patron of the Scout Association.]

The Scotsman
14/03/1996

Copyright © 2016 William Burns. All rights reserved.

Lothian and Borders Police

Dunblane Massacre
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The stained glass window in St Blane's Church, Dunblane, which commemorates the victims of the 1996 massacre
We know that the above victims were killed by Thomas Hamilton, but, although we may not care, we do not know for sure who killed Thomas Hamilton, and why that person was carrying a revolver at the time!
Emma Crozier
Kevin Hassell
Victoria Clydesdale
Ross Irvine
David Kerr
John Petrie
Hanna Scott
Joanna Ross
Sophie North
Emily Morton
Maegan Turner
Brett McKinnon
Abigail McLennan
Charlotte Dunn
Mhairi MacBeath
Melissa Currie
Gwen Hodson/Mayor - schoolteacher
List of the victims of the Dunblane Massacre
Dunblane Cover-up