Events in the life of Thomas Watt Hamilton

This piece on Thomas Hamilton was not compiled by the Webmaster.



The events of 13 March 1996 should be seen against the background of certain events in Thomas Hamilton's life and in particular the last 23 years.  In this section, which of necessity is somewhat protracted, the main events are set out that appear to have a bearing on the outcome, leaving the events of the last 6 months of his life to the next section.  After dealing with his family, education and livelihood, his relationship with the Scouts, his long-standing operation of boys clubs and the circumstances in which he came into contention with local authorities and the police will be dealt with.  Finally, his alleged conduct in regard to firearms will be examined.

Family, education and livelihood

Thomas Hamilton was born in Glasgow on 10 May 1952.  He was the son of Thomas Watt and Agnes Graham Hamilton or Watt.  He was named Thomas Watt.  Shortly after his birth his parents separated and in 1955 they were divorced.  He and his mother moved to the home of his maternal grandparents in Cranhill, Glasgow.  On 26 March 1956, he was adopted by them and his name was changed to Thomas Watt Hamilton.  In 1963, he accompanied his adoptive parents when they moved to 11 Upper Bridge Street, Stirling.  He grew up in the belief that his natural mother was his sister.  In 1985, she moved to live in a house of her own.  In 1987, Thomas Hamilton and his adoptive parents moved to 7 Kent Road, where he continued to live until 13 March 1996.  In August 1987, his adoptive mother died; and 5 years later his adoptive father moved into sheltered housing, so leaving Thomas Hamilton in sole occupation.  He remained in contact with his natural mother, visiting her about twice a week.

After a primary education in Cranhill and Stirling Thomas Hamilton attended Riverside Secondary School, Stirling and Falkirk Technical College, obtaining a number of O Grades in 1968.  In that year he became an apprentice draughtsman in the County Architect's Office in Stirling.  In 1972, he opened a shop at 49 Cowane Street, Stirling known as "Woodcraft", which specialised in the sale of DIY goods and supplies, ironmongery, and latterly the sale of fitted kitchens.  After about 13 years he gave up the shop and registered as unemployed.  He received state benefits until November 1993.  However, at the same time he carried on the activity of buying and selling cameras and camera equipment and carrying out some free-lance photography.

Thomas Hamilton's involvement with the Scouts

In July 1973, Thomas Hamilton, who was then a Venture Scout, was appointed as Assistant Scout Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling Troop.  This followed the normal checks into an appointee's suitability.  He seemed very keen and willing and did not present any problems. On one occasion he volunteered to take some boys on his boat on Loch Lomond for their proficiency badge work but this was not permitted as the boat had insufficient life jackets and no distress flares or oars, and he had inadequate knowledge of the waters.  In the autumn of 1973, he was seconded to be leader of the 24th Stirlingshire troop which was to be revived at Bannockburn.

A number of complaints were made about his leadership, the most serious of which were concerned with two occasions when the boys who were in his charge were forced to sleep overnight in his company in a van during very cold weather at Aviemore.  His excuse on the first occasion was that the intended accommodation had been double-booked and he was warned of the need to double-check such arrangements.  On the latter occasion it was found that no booking had been made by him on either of these occasions.  The County Commissioner, Mr Brian D Fairgrieve had a discussion with the District Commissioner, Mr R C H DeucharsLINK, in which they agreed that Thomas Hamilton should be asked to resign.  Thereafter Mr Fairgrieve had a meeting with him.  He did not think that Thomas Hamilton was a particularly stable person.  He said in evidence "I formed the impression that he had a persecution complex, that he had delusions of grandeur and I felt his actions were almost paranoia".  He was doubtful about his moral intention towards boys.  Thomas Hamilton was informed that in view of his lack of qualities in leadership his warrant was being withdrawn.  On 13 May 1974, Mr Deuchars wrote to him requiring that he return his warrant book.  Despite repeated requests he did not do so for some months.

Mr Fairgrieve wrote to the Scottish Scout Headquarters in order to give them his views about Thomas Hamilton as he considered that he should not be a member of the Scout movement.  In this letter dated 29 June 1974, he wrote:

"While unable to give concrete evidence against this man I feel that too many 'incidents' relate to him such that I am far from happy about his having any association with Scouts.  He has displayed irresponsible acts on outdoor activities by taking young "favourite" Scouts for weekends during the winter and sleeping in his van, the excuse for these outings being hill-walking expeditions.  The lack of precautions for such outdoor activities displays either irresponsibility or an ulterior motive for sleeping with the boys... His personality displays evidence of a persecution complex coupled with rather grandiose delusions of his own abilities.  As a doctor, and with my clinical acumen only, I am suspicious of his moral intentions towards boys".

Mr Deuchars also submitted a form to Scout Headquarters to the effect that Thomas Hamilton was not considered to be a suitable applicant due to his immaturity and irresponsibility.  This resulted in his name being entered on the "blacklist", which is intended to ensure that unsuitable applicants are denied an appointment in the Scout Association.  Such a record is also consulted on occasions when an outside enquiry is made as to whether a former Scout leader has provided satisfactory service.  In the case of Thomas Hamilton it was effective in preventing him in his attempt to become a Scout leader in Clackmannanshire.

During the Inquiry reference was made to a copy of what purported to be a letter written by Thomas Hamilton, dated 28 April 1974 and addressed to Mr Deuchars.  In that letter he tendered his resignation as Scout leader of the 24th Stirlingshire troop, criticised the conduct of Mr Deuchars and stated his intention to transfer to another district.   Mr Deuchars had no recollection of receiving the letter and there is no record of it on the Scout files.  The copy was retrieved from the records of Central Regional Council.  I am satisfied that Thomas Hamilton did not write or send the letter on the date which it bears and that it was written by him in order to create a false impression that through his own resignation he had anticipated the withdrawal of his warrant.

In February 1977, after making a number of attempts to return to Scouting, Thomas Hamilton requested the Scout Association to hold a Committee of Inquiry into his complaint that he had been victimised.  This request was denied.  After some correspondence he stated in April 1977 that he was discontinuing the thought of holding a warrant "as I do not want my good name to be part of this so-called organisation in this district".  However, his letters of complaint continued.  The response of the Scout Association was that the warrant had been withdrawn on the basis of lack of preparation and planning for his adventure activities at Aviemore.  In 1978 he approached Mr David Vass, the District Commissioner for the Trossachs, offering his services as a Scout Leader.  After consulting with Mr Fairgrieve, Mr Vass responded that they were unable to make use of his services.  Thomas Hamilton persistently maintained that the Scouts had not only ruined his reputation by terminating his appointment but that they wereLINKed with the actions taken by other organisations, and in particular the police.

Thomas Hamilton's boys clubs

After the withdrawal of his warrant Thomas Hamilton became increasingly involved in the setting up and running of boys clubs.  It is not clear when he began this activity but it appears that in the late 1970s he was running the "Dunblane Rovers" in the Duckburn Centre in Dunblane.  He also ran a Rovers Group in Bannockburn.  There was some evidence that at this time he was permitted to use school premises.  In any event it is clear that during the period from November 1981 until his death he organised and operated 15 boys clubs for various periods and that these clubs used school premises in Central, Lothian, Fife and Strathclyde Regions.  The clubs, the periods within which they were active and their locations are set out in the accompanying table.


Period Active


Dunblane Rovers Group* Nov.1981-Oct 1983 Dunblane High School.
Dunblane Boys Club* Oct 1985-March 1996 Dunblane High School.
Bannockburn Boys Club* May 1983-March 1996
(No information Oct 1983-1992) Bannockburn High School.
Lynburn Gymnastics Club/Lynburn Boys Club* Feb.1985-Feb.1986
Woodmill Centre and Dunfermline Centre
Dunfermline Boys Sports Club* May 1987-Aug 1992
Woodmill Centre & Queen Anne High School.
Falkirk Boys Club* May 1987-March 1966
(Intermittent) Graeme High School. & Falkirk High School.
Linlithgow Boys Club April 1988-May 1989 Linlithgow AcademyLINK
Menstrie, Alva & Tillicoultry Boys Club March 1989-March 1995 Alva Academy
Stirling Boys Club May 1989-June 1993
Wallace High School & Stirling High School.
Alloa Boys Club* Nov.1992-June 1994 Alloa Academy
Lornshill Boys Club Oct. 1992-June 1994 Lornshill Academy
Denny Boys Club Oct. 1992-Jan 1994 Denny High.School.
Balfron Boys Club April 1993-June 1993 Balfron High School.
Callander Boys Club March 1995-April 1995 McLaren High School.
Bishopbriggs Boys Club* Sept.1995-March 1996 Thomas Muir High Scool.


The symbol * indicates clubs in respect of which there is evidence of others assisting him to some extent.


The typical way in which Thomas Hamilton sought to obtain support for such clubs was to send leaflets to houses and primary schools in the area which the club was intended to serve.  In general, head teachers, who had a discretion as to whether leaflets from voluntary organisations should be allowed to be distributed through their schools, endeavoured to prevent their schools being used in this way.  The clubs were aimed mainly at boys between the ages of 7 and 11.  The club activities consisted of games, such as football, along with an element of gymnastics.  Thomas Hamilton held a Grade 5 certificate from the British Amateur Gymnastics Association which qualified him to provide coaching in gymnastics, subject to being supervised by someone who held a higher qualification.  He was occasionally assisted by persons with sporting qualifications who had responded to an advertisement; or by volunteer helpers, including parents, but this was not regularly the case.  In general, Thomas Hamilton ran each of the clubs entirely on his own.  In a few instances he represented that there was a club committee.  In these cases it appears that a few individuals gave him temporary assistance but there was no satisfactory evidence that the members of the committee controlled or managed anything.  From about 1989 he used the title "Boys' Clubs Sports Group Committee", so creating the impression that others were participating in the running of the clubs.  In reality this was a title for his own activities.   From the running of the clubs he obtained a modest income which in the early days enabled him to finance his trading in cameras.   Boys were initially charged 20p or 30p per night but these charges rose to £1 or £1.50.  Most of the clubs were initially extremely popular, attracting as many as 70 boys.  However, over the lifetime of a club the numbers dropped, typically to less than a dozen.  In the early days Thomas Hamilton put this down to lack of patience or determination on the part of the boys.  However, it is more likely that this was due to the accumulated effect of reactions to his behaviour and the rumours which it generated.

Thomas Hamilton's explanation of his objectives was that he wanted to give the boys something to do and keep them off the streets, and that the discipline was a useful preparation for life.  He said that he put his boys through fitness schemes; that he hated fat children and blamed parents for allowing them to eat junk food.  However, his style of running the clubs attracted the comment from parents and helpers that it was over-regimented and even militaristic.  Witnesses described him as tending to be domineering.  There was too much use of shouting.  It suggested to some that he was getting something out of dominating the boys.  His approach was in any event not in line with modern methods.  The evidence also indicated that the exercises which the boys were asked to perform were over-strenuous for their age.  Parents were also concerned that he was running the clubs without any apparent adult help.  He said that he was authorised to be in sole charge of up to 30 boys but this was known to be untrue.

At the same time Thomas Hamilton appeared to show an unusual interest in individual boys after only one appearance at the club and to put pressure on them to obtain parental permission to attend one of his summer camps.  He appeared to helpers to have favourites.  He was also very eager to collect boys from their homes and was keen to find out more about their family background than was acceptable to their parents after a short acquaintance.  Parents were particularly concerned about Thomas Hamilton's insistence that for gymnastics the boys wore black (and ill fitting) swimming trunks which he provided and that they changed into them in the gym rather than in the changing rooms.  He argued that they often arrived in unsuitable clothing and hence this "uniform" was needed.  The colour eliminated the problem of matching different colours.  He also argued that since the Regional Council had changed the colour of its vehicles he was justified in deciding on a uniform colour.

Another matter which was of concern to parents was his practice of taking photographs of the boys posing in their black trunks while taking deep breaths, without the knowledge or permission of their parents.  For this purpose he used not only a still camera but also a video camera which he acquired about 1989 and possessed for about 5 years.  He argued that it was quite normal for photographs to be taken for training and advertising purposes and said that parents could obtain copies from him.  On a number of occasions he offered parents a videotape so that they could see what kind of activities he ran.  These only served to increase their concern.  Their overriding impression was that there was something unnatural.  The boys did not seem to be enjoying themselves but appeared silent and even frightened.  There was also an over-concentration on parts of the boys' bodies, especially the naked upper parts along with long lingering shots of the area between the waist and the knees.   When confronted with complaints about this Thomas Hamilton argued that it was necessary to identify what muscles were being used so that wrong movements could be corrected.  When challenged about videotapes being made and photographs taken without parental knowledge or consent he responded that parental consent was not necessary but that parents could have access to any photographs which he had taken.   Individual parents through contact with each other discovered that their anxieties were shared.  At home Thomas Hamilton kept a large collection of photographs of boys, many of them wearing black swimming trunks.  These were in albums or attached to the walls of his rooms.  On one occasion he attempted without success to interest a neighbour in a videotape showing "his boys" performing gymnastics in small black bathing trunks.  In the same way as with the parents it made her feel uneasy.   Evidence was also given that he attempted without success to take photographs of a neighbour's children, including his 5 year old son.  The neighbour explained in evidence: "I just didn't like the look of the guy".

Some parents, rather than having specific complaints, simply felt that they did not like the way in which he ran the club.  Some boys complained of feeling uncomfortable in his presence and said that he was "weird".  When he was asked about the way in which he ran his clubs Thomas Hamilton would often speak with pride of what he was doing for the benefit of the boys.  On closer questioning he would quickly become defensive and even aggressive and angry, leaving parents with the impression that he was hiding something.  When a child was withdrawn from one of his clubs he would tend to react by writing to the parents long and repeated letters in which he stated that rumour and innuendoes were rife about him and it was up to them to stamp out this type of falsity.  Some of the letters were hand-delivered at night and were seen by parents as intimidating.  On occasion Thomas Hamilton would make use of the names of people in official positions as "contacts" in his promotional leaflets, but without their permission.  Thus, for example, in 1993 he used the name of a police inspector, the Chief Executive of Central Regional Council and Mr Michael Forsyth MP in this way.LINK  Naturally this was objected to.

The only evidence which the Inquiry heard as to any act of indecency on the part of Thomas Hamilton comprised two incidents.  Firstly, one witness gave evidence at the Inquiry that about 1979-80 when he was 12 years of age he attended the Dunblane Rovers at the Duckburn Centre on one occasion.  At one point Thomas Hamilton sat down close beside him and rubbed him on the inside of his leg, asking him why he wanted to be one of his boys and join the club.  The boy pulled away from him and said that he was just interested in firing weapons, which they had done earlier.  The boy told his father that he did not like the way Thomas Hamilton had touched and spoken to him but he went back to the club the next week.  However, Thomas Hamilton said that he was not mature enough and would not let him in.  Secondly, another person, whose statement was read to the Inquiry, stated that when he was about 12 years of age (in 1985) he attended Thomas Hamilton's club at Bannockburn.  In the summer he was one of a party of eight boys who went to Loch Lomond with him and stayed in his cabin cruiser.   He described an occasion when Thomas Hamilton in his cabin touched him between his legs and on his private parts; told him to lie face down on a bed where he started to push his fingers into his rectum and stroked his back.  Thomas Hamilton's shorts were off and his penis was erect.LINK  He then told him to face the side of the cabin and ran his hand up and down his back while breathing heavily.  Up to that point Thomas Hamilton was striking him from time to time with a telescopic pointer.  He then told him that he could go.  The witness did not report this incident to anyone else.  I do not have difficulty in accepting the evidence in regard to the first of these incidents.  The second is in a rather different position.  The witness was unwilling to be identified and accordingly his evidence was available only in written form.  Thus he could not be cross-examined and I had no opportunity of observing his demeanour for myself.  Further, Mr Bonomy advised me that there were certain further matters in the statement of the witness which, if they were true, would be expected to be corroborated by independent evidence.  However, efforts to obtain such corroboration had met with no success.  In addition the witness had in the past been convicted of a serious crime of dishonesty.  [Ed ~ Is it any wonder that the boy went off the rails, having been the victim of such abuse?]  I also noted that the witness stated that the boat blew up about a week after the trip.  However, other evidence showed that Thomas Hamilton received his insurance payment for his loss of the boat in December 1983.  While there may well be an element of truth in this account I do not consider that it would be wise for me to treat it as entirely reliable.  Accordingly I do not find this allegation to have been proved.  I would also mention that in the BBC Panorama programme broadcast on 16 September a young man alleged that at a summer camp at Loch Lomond in the early 1980s he had been touched indecently by Thomas Hamilton.  I understand that a subsequent investigation which was carried out by the Crown showed that the police had been unable to trace him in connection with the Inquiry: that his allegation was not supported by other evidence and was not consistent with a newspaper article dated 17 March which was based on information supplied by him: that he had received payment for both the article and the broadcast: and that he had a considerable list of convictions for crimes of dishonesty, the latest of which had led to his imprisonment on 20 August 1996.  I consider that evidence of his allegation would not have assisted the Inquiry.  [Ed ~ That preposterous statement alone should be enough to demand a new inquiry.  Is Mr Bonomy a Freemason?  Was any of the police officers who were supposedly unable to trace the boy Freemasons?]

Clubs in Central Regional Council premises in the 1980s

It appears that Thomas Hamilton first obtained a let of Central Regional Council premises in or about 1980 at Borestone Primary School.  In October 1981, describing himself as principal leader of the Dunblane Rovers Troop, he applied for a let of the gymnasium at Dunblane High School.  Such lets were dealt with by the clerk to the School Council.  The Region's policy was designed to encourage the use of council premises by the community.  No checks were carried out on the applicants.  The application was granted.  In the same month Mr I Collie, Director of Education, received a memorandum in regard to an enquiry about Thomas Hamilton's activities at Dunblane High School in which it was stated that Thomas Hamilton was not affiliated in any way to the Scout movement.  It continued: "Mr Hamilton appears to be the subject of a confidential report at national level which shows him to be totally undesirable in relation to working for the Scout movement.  The report is based on his homosexual tendencies, and he was for obvious reasons discreetly removed from the Scout movement".  This information was said to have been provided by Mr T Mack who was then a District Commissioner.  However, in evidence Mr Mack denied being the source of this information.  He was aware that it had been rumoured that Thomas Hamilton was taking young people on camping expeditions which were not properly supervised, but he was not aware that he was suspected of any sexual impropriety.  After making certain enquiries of Thomas Hamilton, Mr Collie took the view that there was nothing which could be queried by the education authority.  It may be noted that the name "Rovers" created the impression that there was some connection between the club and the Scout movement; and the fact that the club was being operated on school premises gave the impression that it was respectable and approved by the local authority.

In the summer of 1983, complaints from parents and head teachers led to the club's activities being considered at a meeting of the Further Education and General Purposes Sub-Committee on 15 August.  At that meeting the junior deputy Director of Education referred to complaints about confusion with the Scout movement and lack of supervision.  He also stated that he had learned that Thomas Hamilton had been removed from the Scouts for homosexual tendencies although they were not prepared to say so formally.  The Committee decided that the lets in favour of Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane and Bannockburn High Schools should be cancelled. Thomas Hamilton was informed of this decision but not of the reasons for it.

Thomas Hamilton reacted by lodging a complaint on 10 October 1983 with the Commissioner for Local Administration in Scotland, to whom I will refer as the "Ombudsman", on the ground that the Council had acted on "malicious gossip and unfounded allegations without investigation". His councillor Mr Robert Ball was concerned that the decision was a breach of natural justice in that no formal complaints had been made against him.LINK  Thomas Hamilton also appealed against the decision to terminate the let of Dunblane High School and obtained the support of 30 letters from parents together with a petition dated 2 November 1983 bearing 70 signatures in his favour.  The latter ended with the words: "We are all proud to have Mr Hamilton in charge of our boys; he has a most activated, excellent quality of leadership and integrity and absolutely devoted to his lads; above all he cares".  [Ed ~ The people whose names appeared on this petition should have been interrogated about the petition's authenticity and, if it was genuine, they should have been questioned about their perhaps fraternal association with Hamilton?]  These were considered by the sub-committee on 7 November 1983 when by a majority it was decided that the status quo should be maintained.

Local opinion was divided over Thomas Hamilton.  Some parents had a "gut feeling" that something was amiss about his activities.   They included Mr George Robertson MPLINK who took up the matter informally with Mr Michael Forsyth MPLINK, the local Member of Parliament since April 1983.  Earlier in that year Thomas Hamilton had demanded an explanation from Mr Robertson's son why he was absent from the club and sought an interview with the boy.  This aroused Mr Robertson's suspicions.  As a result, he and another parent had visited the club and had been dismayed to see "a large number of small boys in shorts stripped to the waist being bossed around by two or three middle-aged men, swaggering around in a very military-type way".  Mr Robertson also described it as "looking like the Hitler youth".  They had decided on the spot that their sons were not going to return to the club.  Their unease had been shared by other parents, although it was difficult to identify exactly what was wrong.  Mr Forsyth, who had already been approached by Thomas Hamilton for his support, was aware that rumours were circulating in Dunblane about him but was also aware that he was supported by a number of parents and that there was no hard evidence of wrongdoing on his part.  Thomas Hamilton made a fresh application for a let of Dunblane High School, this time in the name of the Dunblane Boys Club but on 12 March 1984 the sub-committee decided to defer consideration of this application pending the decision of the Ombudsman.

On 15 November 1984, the Ombudsman found that there had been maladministration on the part of the Regional Council and that injustice had been caused as a result.  The grounds for this decision appear to have been that there was not adequate evidence to substantiate the complaints against Thomas Hamilton; and that he had not been given an opportunity to put his side of the case before the decision was taken.  The reasoning the Ombudsman provided for his decision is not wholly satisfactory.LINK  Firstly, his jurisdiction to enter into a consideration of the merits of a decision depended upon whether he had found in the first place that there had been maladministration and this in turn depended on whether the local authority had acted in accordance with good administrative practice.  However, it is clear from his conclusions that the Ombudsman became involved in a consideration of the weight to be attached to the complaints before determining whether the Regional Council had acted unfairly.  Secondly, it is not clear why the Ombudsman adopted the view of the complaints which he did, and in particular why they should have been, in his words, "heavily discounted".  If he was well-founded in becoming involved in the merits of the decision it is difficult to understand why no consideration was given to the potential risk to the children whose parents had complained.  It was open to him to take into account questions of child protection and parental complaints.  In the result he stated that on the evidence available he saw no reason why the Council should not now grant a let and that in any case he would be unable to record that their future action was a satisfactory response until he was convinced that they had made a decision "on the basis of a proper examination of the relevant factors and only those".  The Ombudsman's report also referred to the fact that in October 1981 a Scout official had expressed displeasure to a local councillor about the fact that Thomas Hamilton's "Boys Group" was using the name "Rovers", which had previously been used by the Scouts.  Enquiries made by the councillor had confirmed that there was no affiliation to the Scouts and that Thomas Hamilton had been required some years before to give up his activities with them.  The report also stated that Thomas Hamilton had sent to the Regional Council in October 1983 a copy of a letter by which he had resigned his Scout leadership in April 1974; and that the Scout Association had informed the Ombudsman that it had not been received by them.

The Regional Council were dismayed at the outcome but took the view that if they were obliged to grant a let to Thomas Hamilton they should insist upon the safeguard of a constitution for what was now to be named as the Dunblane Boys Club; a committee formed by named adults; and a meeting with the committee.  Thomas Hamilton considered that the outcome was a complete vindication of his position; and, fortified by Michael Forsyth's "congratulations", made a practice in future of forwarding him copies of correspondence about further investigations of his activities.LINK

A meeting between the committee of the Dunblane Boys Club and the Sub-Committee of the Education Committee did not take place until 23 September 1985, principally due to a delay on the part of Thomas Hamilton.  However, the sub-committee was provided with information on a number of matters together with evidence of appropriate insurance cover and gymnastics qualification.  The sub-committee agreed that there was no reason for refusing the let of Dunblane High School and it was reinstated as from 24 October 1985.

It should be added that after the publication of the Ombudsman's report Thomas Hamilton visited Mr David Vass once more.  In the course of a conversation between them which was quite vigorous Thomas Hamilton gave him the impression that he believed that the Ombudsman had condemned Mr Vass, and the latter became aware that Thomas Hamilton was recording their conversation on a portable machine.  In August 1986, Thomas Hamilton sought a meeting with Mr Fairgrieve at which he maintained that his life had been ruined by malicious rumours about his behaviour and his views which had been spread by the Scout Commissioner in the area of Dunblane.  He refused to substantiate his complaint, claiming that the matter was in the hands of his solicitor.  Mr Fairgrieve formed the view that he was even more obsessional and even had the appearance of being on psychiatric drugs. This was followed by various telephone calls in which he sought without success to rejoin the Scout movement and to see the confidential report which related to him.  He also contacted various senior officials in the Scout movement with complaints about what he referred to as a grapevine of innuendo and unattributable comments about him.

Summer camp on Inchmoan Island, Loch Lomond in July 1988

On a number of occasions Thomas Hamilton organised summer camps which were aimed at catering for boys.  Some of them took place on Loch Lomond where he had a small speedboat and later, as I mentioned before, a cabin cruiser, until it caught fire and sank in the early 1980s.  He organised a camp on Inchmoan Island for several weeks as from 3 July 1988.  He claimed later that this was his 55th summer camp for boys but there is no way in which this can be confirmed.  Depending on the arrangements made with the individual parents, boys of about 9 years of age came for one or two weeks at a time.  It appears that for much of the time Thomas Hamilton was running the camp with no additional adult help.  After one boy arrived home unhappy about the camp the complaints of several families came to the attention of Strathclyde Police, in whose area the island was situated.  At the request of Chief Inspector Hay of Dumbarton CID, PC George Gunn and PC Donna Duncan visited the Island on 20 July.

They found the site was generally messy, the tables strewn with dirty dishes.  The sleeping bags in the tents were damp to the touch.  The food was not very wholesome.  There was no sign of fresh food and the only source of nutrition was tinned and powdered food.   The boys were 13 in number and appeared to be cold and inadequately dressed for the weather conditions.  Some were playing unsupervised in and around the water about 30 yards from the camp dressed in swimming trunks, some with tee-shirts.  They had scratches on their legs.  These were explained as being due to their going through bracken on the island.   Thomas Hamilton would not allow them to wear trousers, saying that legs dried more easily than trousers.  When questioned, 3 boys said unreservedly that they were enjoying themselves; the others were generally somewhat homesick, complaining of the food and the fact that they were not allowed to send postcards home or to contact their parents by telephone when they made a trip to Luss on the shore of the loch.  The means of reaching the shore was a rowing boat with an inadequate number of lifejackets.  However, none of the boys was sufficiently upset to accept PC Gunn's offer to take them home.  Thomas Hamilton was pleasant in his manner but PC Gunn was uneasy about him in a vague and indefinable way.  He did not consider that the children were in any particular danger but regarded the camp as very basic and badly run.  Thomas Hamilton was alleged to have slapped one or two boys.  He did not deny doing so but maintained that they had been disruptive, bullying and cheeky.  [Ed ~ Hamilton has no legal or moral right to assault young boys, even if he is telling the truth.]

PC Gunn submitted a report to Dumbarton Police Office.  Thomas Hamilton was not charged with any offence.   The parents were contacted by the police.  In due course, six of them came to Dumbarton Police Office where the boys and Thomas Hamilton had been taken after they had been found on a trip to Alexandria.  Some of the boys felt homesick and were taken home, but none of the boys or the parents on that occasion made any complaint against Thomas Hamilton.  Some indeed praised him.  [Ed ~ Were they members of the Freemasons?]

DS Ian McBain submitted a report on the investigation dated 30 August 1988 to the Procurator Fiscal at Dumbarton, Mr James Cardle.LINK  Mr Cardle decided that some of the witnesses from whom statements had been obtained should be precognosced before he reached a decision.  His purpose in doing so was to obtain full information about the alleged assaults and to see if some of the discrepancies between the accounts given by the boys could be reconciled.  Virtually all the boys spoke to being struck by Thomas Hamilton and/or seeing other boys being struck.   In a number of statements some of the boys were unable to name the boys they had seen being struck.  Some boys described events happening to other boys which these boys did not refer to themselves.  After precognition, Mr Cardle, according to his recollection, found that the discrepancies between some of the boys' accounts were even greater than they had been.  Assaults were either not corroborated or there were discrepancies between accounts.  Thus boy A would speak to boy B being slapped in his presence but boy B would not recall this - and vice versa.  Not all the boys spoke up to the police statements and some of the accounts at precognition were vague.  He also recollected that while after precognition there may have been one or two incidents for which there was corroborated evidence there were many others where accounts were vague or inconsistent.  He did not consider it appropriate to select from the whole picture one or two incidents where there was on paper an apparent sufficiency of evidence.   In any event his recollection was that the one or two incidents for which there was corroborative and consistent evidence were very minor indeed and did not merit criminal prosecution.  Having considered the papers he reached the decision that he would not institute criminal proceedings against Thomas Hamilton.  As he remained concerned at the situation which had been revealed in the papers he indicated to the police that they should take these matters up with the social work department, the Reporter to the Children's Panel and also the education authorities involved in the letting of the school premises for the clubs.  His recollection was that he was informed that these other agencies were already aware of these matters.  In this context the role of the Reporter is, of course, not concerned with initiating proceedings against an adult.

Miss Laura Dunlop submitted at the close of the Inquiry that the Procurator Fiscal could have taken steps to prosecute Thomas Hamilton in regard to assaulting two of the boys and for a breach of section 12 of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937.  In response, Mr Bonomy pointed out that the Inquiry did not have available to it the precognitions which had been obtained by Mr Cardle.  [Why not? ~ ed.]  Furthermore, there was no evidence that the children had sustained any injury.LINK Any striking of them was exclusively in connection with Thomas Hamilton's attempts to maintain discipline.  There was no question of the children being in physical or moral danger.LINK  The attitude of the parents towards Thomas Hamilton was far from uniform.  [Ed ~ Does "every" parent have to complain before a proper investigation is conducted? It is inconceivable that every child in Hamilton's care would have been subjected to abuse.  Why is it that only certain individuals are granted this special treatment and immunity from deeper scrutiny and prosecution?]

Meanwhile, Thomas Hamilton made an informal complaint against PC Gunn, claiming that he was incompetent and untruthful in making his report.  He sent a series of letters to his superior officer, Inspector Michael Mill, and other officers of Central Scotland Police.  These were widely circulated through Dunblane and reached his local MP.  In August, Thomas Hamilton called at Balfron Police Office intending to discuss PC Gunn's report with him.   PC Gunn refused to do so and had great difficulty in getting Thomas Hamilton to leave, even having to resort to the threat of having him arrested.  It was clear that the incident had become an obsession as far as Hamilton was concerned.  His initial complaint was that police officers were not qualified to make a proper judgment.  He sent letters to Inspector Mill indicating the type of activity which took place at the camp and enclosing receipts to show the kind of food that he had bought.  His complaint was thoroughly investigated and rejected in a letter written on behalf of the Chief Constable dated 19 October 1988.  Initially Thomas Hamilton appeared to accept what had been said.  However, almost immediately he changed his mind and wrote to the Chief Constable objecting to the fact that PC Gunn had been appointed to investigate his camp "in view of a long resentment shown to our group by many adult members of the Dunblane Scouts".  He claimed, incorrectly, that PC Gunn was a Scout leader.  This was a demonstration of a fixation on the part of Thomas Hamilton that there was a "brotherhood" conspiracy between the police and the Scouts in Dunblane.  [Ed ~ Thomas Hamilton had apparently stopped attending Masonic Lodge meetings in 1986.LINK]   This fixation was pursued in a stream of letters to the police, his MP, The Scottish Office, his local newspaper and circulars to parents of boys and to the public.

On 30 November 1988, Thomas Hamilton made his complaint official.  It was then formally investigated on behalf of the Deputy Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police, Douglas McMurdo, who appointed Inspector (now Supt) James Keenan to investigate.LINK  The charges made by Thomas Hamilton were that PC Gunn had made a false and misleading statement to Strathclyde Police, and that he had made an unlawful and unnecessary exercise of his authority in the investigation of the Inchmoan camp.  A barrage of letters from Thomas Hamilton continued, becoming personalised and critical of the competence and professionalism of the police officers.   Inspector Keenan carried out a thorough investigation of Thomas Hamilton's complaint, having taken a formal statement of it from him.  Thomas Hamilton took some 3 hours to deliver it.  Inspector Keenan's investigations included the taking of additional statements from witnesses in regard to allegations of a similar type to those investigated by PC Gunn.  He also interviewed a number of persons who had camped in the same area as Thomas Hamilton and spoke highly of his organisation and capabilities as a leader, and the food and equipment provided by him.  On 22 May 1989, Inspector Keenan submitted his report in which he exonerated PC Gunn and PC Duncan.  Thomas Hamilton subsequently complained that this investigation was a whitewash and that he had not got to the truth.  PC Gunn expressed the view in his evidence that Thomas Hamilton was untrustworthy, vindictive, wholly unreasonable, malicious and obsessive.  He had considered suing him for defamation but decided that there would be little point in doing so.  [Ed ~ Was this because he was aware of his fraternal connections in the Masons and/or the paedophile ring of "toffs"?LINK]

In his report Inspector Keenan suggested to DCC McMurdo that numerous points which had been elicited might be worthy of consideration by Strathclyde Police.  The Deputy Chief Constable submitted the report to the Deputy Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, and on his behalf it was passed on 16 June 1989 to the Chief Superintendent responsible for disciplinary matters asking that a senior officer take the report to the Procurator Fiscal at Dumbarton and have any further inquiry necessary carried out.  However, when the report reached Mr Cardle he realised at once that it concerned a complaint against police officers which was a matter which could not be dealt with by him but only by the Regional Procurator Fiscal at Paisley.  Accordingly, he forwarded the report to him.  It should be understood that as a matter of long standing practice which has had the approval of the High Court of Justiciary (MacLeod v Tiffney 1994 SCCR 169) information which is elicited in the course of the investigation of a complaint against a police officer remains confidential to the Regional Procurator Fiscal and is not disclosed to the Procurator Fiscal or his staff who may be considering a report against the person making the complaint.  This applies, of course, to matters arising out of the same incident.  The Regional Procurator Fiscal having considered the report of Inspector Keenan reached the view that it disclosed nothing of a criminal nature so far as the conduct of the police was concerned and marked the papers "no proceedings".  He confirmed his decision in a letter to the discipline branch dated 10 October 1989.

Linlithgow Boys Club

In April 1988, Thomas Hamilton registered the Linlithgow Boys Club with Lothian Regional Council.  Registration depended on whether the applicant organisation was to be run for the benefit of young people and details of the members of the organisation required to be provided.  Registration qualified the organisation for reduced rates.  An application was normally investigated.  However, due to an oversight no check was made in this case.  Accordingly a follow-up check was made by Mr D G Jeffrey, a senior youth educational worker, who had responsibility for youth and children's work development.  On his visit to the club, which met at Linlithgow Academy, he saw nothing to give him cause for concern.  He found about 30 boys aged between 8 and 11 in PE kit in the school gym doing football training.  He was also concerned with a complaint from a parent who had withdrawn her son from the summer camp and had complained of being intimidated by Thomas Hamilton who was seeking payment of money due for the booking.  The Inquiry also heard evidence that a parent had been against her son going to his camp as she had heard that Thomas Hamilton stood at the entrance to the showers at Linlithgow Academy on the pretext that this was to stop any trouble there.

Mr Jeffrey took the opportunity to discuss the summer camps, the programme and nature of the activities and contact points with parents.  The information which Thomas Hamilton gave him caused him some concern.  He felt uneasy about such young boys being on an island in Loch Lomond with the only access to parents being a telephoneLINK.  He felt ill at ease during this meeting.  Thomas Hamilton was immediately on the defensive when he was asked about the club and wanted to know who had made complaints against him.  When he was questioned about whether there was a club committee and/or parental involvement in the club, he said he intended to form a parents' committee after a trial period (in fact he never did so).  Later in the same week Mr Jeffrey made enquiries about Thomas Hamilton with the Scout Association, the Scottish Association of Boys Clubs and Mr G Baxter, Head of the Woodmill Centre, Dunfermline.  From all these sources came the same impression, a feeling of uneasiness and concern which was difficult to define.  He was concerned as to why Thomas Hamilton refused to have his clubs affiliated to a larger organisation such as the Scottish Association of Boys Clubs.  There was no tangible evidence that something was amiss but the general recommendation was that it was better to have nothing to do with him.   He was also concerned at learning that it was unlikely that Thomas Hamilton would receive any help in running the club at Linlithgow or at Dunfermline.   Shortly after his visit he received a very detailed letter from Thomas Hamilton which sought to justify his activities, along with copies of letters to public figures including his appeal to the Ombudsman to which I have referred already.  Mr Jeffrey felt that Thomas Hamilton was attempting to deter him from further investigation.   However, he was aware of "innuendo and unhappiness" rather than objective details.

Thereafter a recommendation was made to the Head of the Community Education Service in Lothian Regional Council that the club should be de-registered on the grounds that the ratio of leader to members was unsatisfactory; that there was no parental committee; that other regional councils could not recommend Thomas Hamilton's clubs; that he was not affiliated to the Scottish Association of Boys Clubs; and that there was no insurance.  However, despite this, Thomas Hamilton was granted a further let for the year starting in the autumn of 1988.

In May 1989, a further complaint was made about Thomas Hamilton and was later presented on behalf of Mrs Doreen Hagger by her councillor.   The complaint was that there had been inappropriate activities at the camp on Inchmoan Island to which I have already referred.  Mrs Hagger was one of the parents of boys who had attended that camp and, following her son making a complaint, she had gone to the island and eventually agreed to assist Thomas Hamilton with the camp.  At a later stage when Inspector Keenan interviewed her son it emerged that Thomas Hamilton had allegedly rubbed suntan oil on the boys at the camp and had asked them to do so all over his body, on some occasions when he was not wearing pants.  She did not witness this herself.  She became extremely opposed to his activities and decided to do her utmost to persuade others of his unsuitability to supervise boys clubs.

On 16 May 1989, Mrs Hagger, along with Mrs Janet Reilly who had also assisted at the camp on Inchmoan IslandLINK, assaulted Thomas Hamilton by pouring various substances including suntan oil over him as he was leaving Linlithgow Academy at the end of one of the meetings of the club.  In her evidence Mrs Hagger said that she wanted to stop Thomas Hamilton organising another camp.LINK  She wanted to be taken to court for assaulting him so that there would be a proper investigation.  She arranged for a press reporter to be present with a photographer so that she could obtain the maximum publicity from the incident.  She also wanted Lothian Regional Council to revoke the let at Linlithgow Academy.  To her great disappointment Thomas Hamilton refused to make any complaint against her and remained calm and polite.

It is reasonably plain that Mrs Hagger's actions led to the Regional Council becoming aware that the 1988 camp had been the subject of police investigations.  Through the confusion between the original report to the Procurator Fiscal at Dumbarton (who had already decided to take no proceedings) and the report by Inspector Keenan the education department of the Regional Council was given to understand that a decision on proceedings against Thomas Hamilton was still pending.  On this basis the Regional Council considered that it had a duty to protect the children which justified them in suspending the let while investigations were proceeding.   In these circumstances they suspended the let in May 1989.

Thomas Hamilton responded by making a complaint to the Ombudsman, but the latter decided not to carry out an investigation.  He stated that he did not consider that any criticism could be levelled at the Regional Council having regard to the high duty of care where children were involved.  It may be noted that in this case the existence of parental complaints, in combination with the fact that there had been a police investigation, were sufficient to tip the balance against the complaint.   In due course the Regional Council was informed that no action was to be taken against Thomas Hamilton.  He was told that if he submitted an application it would be considered.  Despite this the Regional Council had developed a policy whereby any space which he sought would be allocated for community use so as to be unavailable for him.  The assistant Director of Education, Mr J Perry, said in evidence that they had a feeling that his organisation was not suitable but they could not prove it.

Summer camp at Mullarochy Bay, Loch Lomond in July 1991

On 23 July 1991 DS (now Chief Inspector) Paul Hughes, who was in charge of the Child Protection Unit at Bannockburn, was informed of a complaint by a parent about Thomas Hamilton's camp at Mullarochy Bay, which was within the area of Central Scotland Police.  This camp was held for a period of 2 weeks with some 20 boys in the age range of 6-11 years attending for part or all of the time.  It had been understood that the camp would be supervised by 4-6 adults.   In fact the only assistance which Thomas Hamilton had was one other adult who arrived after the first week.  There were complaints about assault and the videotaping of boys. DS Hughes assigned DC Grant Kirk and a social work colleague.  They went to the camp on 23 July and interviewed Thomas Hamilton under caution.   He effectively admitted the assault but sought to justify it.   Once more there was concern about boys being required to wear black swimming trunks.

DS Hughes had not encountered Thomas Hamilton before but learned that he would be likely to be quick to complain.   He therefore decided to become involved in the investigation and visited the camp on 25 July in the company of DC Kirk.  The main purpose of this visit was to return camera equipment which Thomas Hamilton had surrendered 2 days before, but it also provided DS Hughes with an opportunity to look at the camp himself.  As regards the assault Thomas Hamilton admitted under caution to slapping a child across the face.  His justification was that the boy had been disruptive, a bully, had assaulted another child, had thrown a stone which hit another child in the eye and needed chastisement.  He also admitted to slapping the same boy across the leg and grabbing him.  Concerns had also been raised about the nature of the photographs which he had taken and about a trip to an island where the children had been forced to take part in the making of a videofilm on the lines of "The Lord of the Flies".  In particular one child was forced to lie in cold water against his will.  The children were cold and wet and were dressed only in swimming trunks during a rain shower as Thomas Hamilton prevented them from putting their clothes on.  When he was asked to provide photographs he had taken Thomas Hamilton denied that he had taken any still photographs.

During his visit DS Hughes became concerned about the lack of supervision at the camp.  Half a dozen boys were running around the camp area but the others were out of sight.  They were about 400-500 yards away at a jetty and out of clear view of the camp.  It took DS Hughes some 3 or 4 minutes to walk down to the jetty where he found the boys, the youngest being only 6 years old, jumping from the jetty into a boat and back out again.  The water there was deep and not one of the boys was wearing a life jacket.  Thomas Hamilton did not know the boys were there.  When he was questioned about the potential for accidents he said that they were capable of looking after themselves and that he could provide any assistance in the event of an accident.  Some of the parents had removed their children after DC Kirk's first visit to the camp.

One of the boys who was interviewed later said that he had been singled out by Thomas Hamilton, taken alone to an individual tent and photographed in red-coloured swimming trunks.  DS Hughes feared that this boy was being singled out for special treatment and perhaps for future abuse.  Thomas Hamilton denied any such intention and denied taking such photographs.  On 30 July and in response to a request from the police he handed over 6 boxes of slides and about 150 still photographs.  There was reason to believe that he deceived the police.  DS Hughes discovered at the shop in Stirling where Thomas Hamilton had handed in what was to be developed that he had in fact received eight boxes of slides: and that a ninth had recently arrived for him.  DS Hughes did not take possession of that box at that time, but at a later date when it was handed over by Thomas Hamilton.  In the result there were two boxes of slides which were never recovered by the police.  Among the photographs which were recovered there were a large number of the particular boy who was plainly a favourite and had been given special jobs on the camp.  However, there were no photographs of him wearing red swimming trunks.  A processor in Livingston had also contacted the shop in Stirling in order to express her concern about the content of some of the photographs.   It is impossible to know whether the boxes which were not recovered by the police contained photographs which would have given rise to even greater concern.  As regards the photographs which were recovered by the police, although there were various different poses by boys wearing black swimming trunks there was no explicit indecency.  DS Hughes considered that Thomas Hamilton had been untruthful about the photographs.  The nature of them made him concerned about the "stability" of his personality and his unhealthy interest in children.

At this stage DS Hughes himself became the target of complaints by Thomas Hamilton who wrote to the Chief Constable, the Deputy Chief Constable, his MP and other persons about him.  DS Hughes continued his investigations and when he had gathered all the information which he considered relevant he decided to try to interview Thomas Hamilton under caution and give him an opportunity to respond to the allegations.   As he himself was the subject of a complaint he sought advice from colleagues and the Procurator Fiscal at Stirling as to how he should proceed.  The Procurator Fiscal, Mr K Valentine, advised him to invite Thomas Hamilton to the police office on a voluntary basis for an interview under caution.  Thomas Hamilton refused to be interviewed.  DS Hughes then delivered his very substantial report to the Procurator Fiscal on 6 September 1991.  This report included 10 charges drafted against Thomas Hamilton.  They had a brief discussion.  Mr Valentine doubted whether the report revealed sufficient evidence of criminality to merit court proceedings.  However, he decided to have further enquiries made and to have the boys precognosced before reaching a final decision.  He was troubled by the contents of the report and the situation that was revealed.  He was concerned to have it confirmed that the situation had been drawn to the attention of other agencies that might have an interest.  One of the Procurator Fiscal Deputes prepared a note indicating that, in his view, there was not a great deal to substantiate many of the charges proposed by the police, with the possible exception of the charges of assault and a charge of breach of the peace based on Thomas Hamilton shouting and swearing at the boys.   When the precognitions were obtained it was noted that none of the parents had anything to add to their statements and some of them had shown concern at the thought that Thomas Hamilton was being suspected of anything untoward.  They had not stopped their children going to his clubs.  On 18 November 1991, having considered all the material, Mr William Gallagher, Procurator Fiscal Depute, decided that no criminal proceedings should be taken, marking the papers "no pro:no crime libelled: not in the public interest".LINK  On the same date he wrote to Thomas Hamilton advising him of his decision and informing him that the police had been instructed to return his photographs to him.  Mr Gallagher's view was that in relation to some of the allegations the evidence did not indicate criminality and, where criminality was indicated, the circumstances, taken at their highest were not such as to require prosecution in the public interest.  Mr Valentine and Mr Gallagher had discussed DS Hughes' report on several occasions.  Both took the view that while the contents of the report had troubled them they were of the view that the conduct had approached but not crossed the border of criminality.  [Ed ~ They will regret that until their dying days, irrespective of the excuses made not to prosecute.  Where children are concerned, if they must err, they must err on the side of safety.]  

Miss Laura Dunlop in her closing submission also maintained that proceedings could have been taken against Thomas Hamilton in respect of charges 2-7 of those framed by DS Hughes.   Mr Bonomy pointed out that the evidence plainly indicated that the child who had been struck by Thomas Hamilton had obviously been behaving in a violent and bullying manner.   [Ed ~ An assault is still an assault: admitted by Thomas Hamilton.LINK]

During the course of these investigations, DS Hughes discovered that Thomas Hamilton had a firearms certificate.  While the papers were before the Procurators Fiscal and anticipating that no proceedings would be taken against Thomas Hamilton, he submitted a memorandum dated 11 November 1991 to the Detective Superintendent, CID Headquarters, in which he requested that serious consideration should be given to withdrawing the firearms certificate as a precautionary measure.LINK

Thomas Hamilton made a formal complaint about DS Hughes which was investigated by Chief Inspector Ferguson.  His report completely exonerated DS Hughes.  In his report Chief Inspector Ferguson stated: "I have completed 30 years police service, a long number of these as a CID Officer.  Throughout these years I interviewed many hard criminals, many aggressive people, many reluctant witnesses, many complainers against the police but I can honestly say the interviews with Mr Hamilton were the most exasperating of my career".  Not satisfied with this result Thomas Hamilton complained about the way in which Chief Inspector Ferguson had carried out his investigation but nothing came of this.  The Chief Constable sought advice from the department of Administration and Legal Services of Central Regional Council about the raising of proceedings for defamation against Thomas Hamilton in respect of his statements about officers of Central Scotland Police, but it was considered that such proceedings would not deter him and would give him the opportunity to air his views about a conspiracy between the Scouts, the police and the Regional Council.

Thomas Hamilton also complained to the Ombudsman about the conduct of Central Scotland Police and to the Social Work Department claiming that his activities had been harassed and disrupted and his character had been defamed.  The Ombudsman dealt with this complaint by pointing out that the police lay outside his jurisdiction, and that defamation was a matter for a court of law.

Residential sports training course, Dunblane in June 1992

Following the problems which Thomas Hamilton had experienced with his summer camps, he ran the series of what came to be known as residential sports training courses during the summer holidays at Dunblane High School.  Central Regional Council considered that these courses represented an improvement as compared with his summer camps as they had better facilities and could be supervised.  On the evening of 29 June, P C Gunn came across three young boys walking down Old Doune Road, Dunblane dressed in their pyjamas.  They told him that they had been at a boys' camp at Dunblane High School and that they were wanting to go home.  They were home-sick and did not like the discipline which Thomas Hamilton was imposing on them.  They did not complain of any violence or criminal behaviour.  P C Gunn took them to the police office, but having heard the name of Thomas Hamilton he felt that it was best that he should not become personally involved.  Contact was made with the parents who took the boys home.

On the following day, Thomas Hamilton explained to police officers who visited the school that the boys slept in sleeping bags on the dining hall floor.  After settling down for the night they were not allowed to go anywhere without his permission, except to the toilets.  Three boys had gone there and had probably left the building by the fire exit.  At that stage the police were satisfied by his explanation and no further action was taken.

On 2 July the police received a complaint from a parent about regimentation and lack of supervision.  Arrangements were then made to take statements from the three boys.  One of the parents expressed herself as concerned about the lack of supervision, the circumstances in which her son left the school and Thomas Hamilton's discouragement of any telephone contact with home and any parental access.  A report was made to the Child Protection Unit, which contacted the corresponding unit in Fife from whence the boys had come.  Copies were also sent to the Reporters to the Children's Panels for Central Region and Fife Region.  The latter Reporter, Mr A Kelly, was concerned about the risk to which the three boys might have been exposed, the conditions at the school and the general lack of supervision.  He communicated his concerns to Mr D Somerville, the Senior Assistant Director of Education of Fife Regional Council.  In a memorandum to him he wrote: "I feel that the events of 29 June 1992 in Dunblane in a sense serve as a warning.  If the kind of circumstances as described are allowed to continue without some kind of intervention, I consider that other children may be placed at risk.  In like situations arising unchecked, I fear that a tragedy to a child or children is almost waiting to happen."

A copy of the police report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal at Stirling, Mr Valentine, for information only.   He was satisfied that it required no action to be taken and marked the copy "no pro: not a crime".  There plainly was no evidence of any criminal act.  [Ed ~ Again, "where children are concerned, one must act on the side of safety.  How many loopholes are created for these perverted characters?]

Lynburn Gymnastics Club/Dunfermline Boys Club

In the case of Fife Regional Council applications for lets at school premises required to be made to the area office of the Regional Council but might be referred to the headmaster for consideration.  Thomas Hamilton obtained a let for the Lynburn Gymnastics Club at the Woodmill Centre in Dunfermline.  The club included swimming under the supervision of qualified attendants employed by the Regional Council.  At first Thomas Hamilton had an assistant, but when attendances started to diminish he could not afford to keep him on.  Thereafter, a number of parents assisted him but from about 1990 he was there on his own.

While the club was at the Woodmill Centre it was monitored by the full-time staff employed at the Centre who would watch activities once a fortnight for about ten minutes.  The staff described activities as being "a gymnastics class from about 1945 or the 1950s".  Mr G Baxter, the Head of the Woodmill Centre, said in evidence that: "It just wasn't the type of gymnastics they were being taught in the 1990s but there was nothing else wrong with it".  The boys wore only gym shoes and shorts, but this was not considered to be unusual.  Thomas Hamilton took photographs of the boys and some of these were passed to Mr Baxter for display in the Centre.  They did not contain anything unusual.

A number of complaints came to the attention of Mr Baxter.  A number of these related to camps run by Thomas Hamilton.  In 1985, it was reported that he had left some boys unsupervised at night on an island in Loch Lomond while he stayed on a barge with other boys.  They were left with a rowing boat and the youngest was hardly able to swim.  They were given little to eat and were not able to wear warm clothing.  One boy was assaulted by three others and Thomas Hamilton apparently watched without intervening.  A further complaint was made in regard to a camp in 1990.  This was that a boy had sustained a serious chest infection there.  However, in this instance the parent did not pursue the complaint.  In each instance the Regional Council considered withdrawing the lets, but took the view that they could not do so as nothing untoward was occurring in the Centre.

As regards the club there was a complaint in 1990, by which time it was referred to as the Dunfermline Boys Sports Club.  The complaint was that a boy was excluded from the Club for being too big.  Following correspondence, Thomas Hamilton agreed not to prevent boys from joining on the basis of their build.  As far as Mr Baxter was aware this was the only complaint received by Fife Region in regard to activities within the Woodmill Centre.

Following the memorandum from the Reporter to the Children's Panel, to which I have referred to above,LINK  Mr Somerville prepared a detailed report considering the issues raised by the 1992 training course.  His report incorporated the findings of Mr E Liddell, a PE Instructor, who had viewed a videotape of the gymnastics run by Thomas Hamilton.  Mr Liddell's view was that the activities were inappropriate and in some cases dangerous.  As a result of this report it was decided that the Regional Council would not provide further lets to Thomas Hamilton.  The concern was that children might suffer harm through carelessness on his part.  The Council were not aware of any rumours regarding possible abuse of boys.  The lets were terminated as from 28 August 1992.

Thomas Hamilton complained about this to the Ombudsman, but on 7 September 1992 he declined to proceed with the complaint as the Regional Council had offered to meet Thomas Hamilton.  However, Thomas Hamilton did not receive any further let from the Regional Council.

Further complaints about Thomas Hamilton during 1993 - 1995

In January 1993, a complaint was made to Central Regional Council that Thomas Hamilton was solely in charge of the club at Denny High School.  This led to the Regional Council investigating his qualifications and methods and the bona fides of the Boys Sports Club Group Committee.  In May and June 1993, the Family Unit (formerly the Child Protection Unit) received two further complaints about Thomas Hamilton's conduct at Denny High School and Dunblane High School.  The complaints were that he had required boys to change into black swimming trunks and had photographed them.  In one case the boy was photographed on his own in a locked gym.  In the other the boy was photographed while carrying out exercises with another boy.  Another complaint was made that a boy had attended at Stirling High School with a view to playing five-a-side football but instead had been required to change into ill-fitting trunks and perform gymnastic exercises.  The nature of the exercises caused concern to the police.  In each case an investigation was carried out by the Family Unit, but as the boys were then withdrawn from the clubs no further action was taken under the child protection procedures.  However, the investigation was continued as a police matter and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal on 9 June 1993 with a request for a warrant to search Thomas Hamilton's house for photographs, photographic equipment, documentation and other items which might be relevant to police enquiries. The police were concerned about Thomas Hamilton's access to boys, especially those who were vulnerable.  They thought that photographs of them performing certain exercises were open to being interpreted as lewd.  While Thomas Hamilton provided parents with photographs of their children fully clothed, he did not include photographs of them wearing only swimming trunks.  The police also were concerned about Thomas Hamilton overworking the boys.  DC (now DS) Gordon Taylor who brought the report to the Procurator Fiscal's office had the opportunity of discussing it with Mr William Gallagher.  Mr Gallagher, having considered the information provided, reached the view that there was insufficient material to file the application.  He was of the view that while the conduct was of concern it did not yet cross the border into criminality.  However, he expressed the view that the police should continue their enquiries and report further to him if any more evidence came to light.  In these circumstances he marked the report so as to indicate that the matter should be reviewed in three months' time.  So far as he was concerned he was concentrating on whether some form of indecency was going on.  None of the photographs appeared to be indecent.  He advised the police that they need not report further instances of the same conduct unless there was a change in the character of the circumstances indicating criminality.  In his evidence DS GordonTaylorLINK stated that he had suggested to Mr Gallagher that, while the children were not alarmed by Thomas Hamilton's conduct, the parents' alarm would possibly have amounted to a breach of the peace but that Mr Gallagher did not think that it did.LINK   In his evidence Mr Gallagher said that he would have been surprised if he had said that a breach of the peace could not be constituted where alarm had been caused to a third party.  On 10 September 1993, Mr Gallagher reviewed the papers adding to them a marking which indicated that no proceedings were to be taken.  In the meantime, no further information had come to light.  It is likely that he would have been in contact with the police before making this decision.  In her closing submissions, Miss Dunlop argued that a case of breach of the peace could have been based on the parents' reactions to Thomas Hamilton's conduct.  This was a matter which was left to the discretion/idiosyncracies of the Procurator Fiscal to assess.  It is in any event clear that in this case the concentration was upon whether there was evidence indicative of indecency.

In the meantime, the Regional Council was investigating the activities of Thomas Hamilton.  In February 1993 Mr Flett, Assistant Director of Administration and Legal Services, had obtained a report by Mrs T Chillas, Sports Development Officer, on three videotapes which had come into the hands of the Regional Council and showed boys club activities.  In her report she criticised the gymnastic exercises and trampolining shown in the videotapes and made critical observations about the manner in which the club was conducted by Thomas Hamilton.  That report was made available to DS Moffat who had been endeavouring to gather more information about his activities.  His qualifications were checked and found to meet the requirements of the Regional Council.  In June 1993, Mr Flett asked Thomas Hamilton for a copy of the minutes of the most recent AGM of the Boys Sports Club Group Committee.  These were never furnished, but by letter dated 31 July 1993, Thomas Hamilton sent to Mr Flett what purported to be minutes of an AGM held on 8 August 1993.  Mr Flett wrote again to Thomas Hamilton pointing out that the minutes which had been supplied were of a meeting subsequent to that requested.   In order to see whether the parents' complaints could be backed up by 'hard' evidence DC Gordon Taylor obtained the consent of the Scout Association to examine their file on Thomas Hamilton on 20 October 1993.  From this file he was able to read that he had been suspected of improper behaviour towards boys.  A letter in the file also attributed to Mr B D Fairgrieve the view that Thomas Hamilton was "mentally unbalanced", but Mr Fairgrieve said to him that he could not substantiate that particular comment about him, which was purely a personal opinion.  [Ed ~ How many "personal opinions" and complaints had to be documented before Hamilton's "minders" decided that vulnerable children must be protected?]

Arising from the summer camp organised by Thomas Hamilton in 1993 at Dunblane High School, a further complaint was received by the police.  It was similar in nature to previous complaints: children who were scantily clad in black swimming trunks were the subject of photographs which the parents considered to be inappropriate.  On the instruction of the Deputy Chief Constable, DS (now Superintendent) Holden and DS Moffat interviewed Thomas Hamilton at his home in October 1993 in regard to the organisation and composition of his committee and the complaint which had been made about his methods and use of photography.  Thomas Hamilton refused to supply details of people who were on his committee, despite reminders.  During the interview, which lasted two hours or more, DS Holden gained the impression that the clubs filled most of Thomas Hamilton's life.  He was quite obsessive about his methods and manner of organising the exercises.  He would tolerate no criticism of his conduct of the clubs or of the boys' dress.  A short question on the methods of training he used would elicit a lengthy reply and a very persuasive argument in favour of his methods.  He gave the impression that he had rehearsed these arguments many times.  He was quite calm and articulate, very polite but extremely evasive on the subject of the members of the club committee.  DS Holden considered that he was lying on that point.  He reported back to the Deputy Chief Constable Douglas McMurdo who by that stage was well aware of complaints about children being required to dress in swimming trunks with bare tops and inappropriate photographs being taken of them.LINK

It may be noted that throughout the years Thomas Hamilton's stream of letters of complaint and self-justification continued unabated.  He expressed a complete lack of faith in any of the complaints procedures and tried on various occasions to enlist the help of his MP.  He frequently wrote to parents defending himself and attacking the police.  He tried to involve The Scottish Office, complaining about the way that the police were handling his complaints, with the result that the police had to keep The Scottish Office regularly up to date on what was happening.   DCC McMurdo became obviously exasperated at what he described as his irrational outpourings in vindictive correspondence.  The police were obliged to follow up persistent complaints which were quite absurd.  He considered Thomas Hamilton to be bitter and petty-minded, perverting the healthy relationship between police officers and the Scout movement into something sleazy and dishonourable.  He found it difficult to try to reason with a person whom he described as a zealot.

In October 1993, a yet further complaint was received from parents, in this instance in regard to a boy who had attended Balfron Boys Club.  The parents asked for reassurance about the running of the club and posed a number of specific questions.  They too expressed concern that Thomas Hamilton had insisted that the children were topless, that he had required the children to change into black swimming trunks, and that he had taken photographs of them.  This letter was followed up by DS Moffat, but he had to explain to them that there was nothing in their letter which was not already known to him and to the Procurator Fiscal.

Further similar complaints about clubs on the premises of Central Regional Council were expressed in December 1994.  These were referred to the police, but were not reported to the Procurator Fiscal because of his previous decision to take no proceedings against Thomas Hamilton in similar circumstances.  The Regional Council wrote to Thomas Hamilton asking why swimming trunks were essential and whether he had made it clear to parents that photographs would be taken.  His reply contained a lengthy justification of his methods but did not provide straight answers to the questions.  Thomas Hamilton continued to enjoy the general support of Councillor Ball.LINK  In 1995, the Regional Council had frequent discussions as to how they could make it more difficult for Thomas Hamilton to obtain a let of school premises.   Some of their discussions involved DS Moffat.  In May 1995, the Regional Council required Thomas Hamilton to give parents advance information that their children might be photographed: and in June they declined to accede to his request that teachers at Bannockburn Primary School should be instructed not to make comments about him and that a letter of apology about such comments should be sent to all parents.  The fact that the Regional Council did not terminate his lets resulted from the belief that, in the absence of more substantial evidence, termination would not be sustainable.  The Regional Council were also wary of encountering the repetition of an adverse report by the Ombudsman.

Alleged incidents involving firearms

In this part consideration will be given to evidence relating to allegations that Thomas Hamilton used firearms in what was, or may have been, an improper manner prior to 13 March 1996.

A history will be set out of the firearms which Thomas Hamilton was authorised to, and did, acquire and use.  For present purposes it suffices to say by way of background that he had a long-standing interest in firearms.  There was evidence that he had possessed an air rifle with which he practised at the rear of his shop in Cowane Street, Stirling.  On 14 February 1977, he was granted a firearms certificate.   At the outset he acquired small-bore firearms.  In December 1979, he moved on to full-bore.

While he was running the Dunblane Rovers Group he took a number of boys on Friday evenings to the range of the Dunblane Rifle and Pistol Club for tuition in the use of air rifles and air pistols.  At that stage he was a member of that club.  After it was disbanded he became a member of the Stirling Rifle and Pistol Club in 1986 or 1987.  It also appears likely that he was for a few years a member of the Callander Rifle and Pistol Club (which was mentioned in his original application for a firearms certificate) and of the Clyde Valley Pistol Club.

He was not a very frequent attender at the meetings of the Stirling Rifle and Pistol Club.  There was evidence that he was a "loner" who would stand to one side rather than join in the conversation between members.  One observer said: "Nobody in the club knew very much about him".  He was described as being "not competition-orientated".   It was found that when he was taking part in the discipline known as police pistol, he did not follow the course of fire.  When the command at twenty metres distance was to fire six rounds in a given time, he would "blast off" twelve.  He was not endangering the others, but was disturbing them by his rate of fire.  It was not in the spirit of a competition, and he was not prepared to listen to advice.  Since he observed safety procedures, there was no occasion for him to be reported to the police.

There was evidence that on a number of occasions he brought firearms to homes of other people in order to show them off.  This happened in the case of a parent of a boy who was attending the Dunblane Boys Club in the middle 1980s. Thomas Hamilton brought a .357 revolver and a semi-automatic pistol to his home on one occasion after he had asked the son if he would be interested in seeing them.  However, the parent was impressed with Thomas Hamilton's approach to safety.

One of these occasions was reported to the police.  Towards the end of 1988, Thomas Hamilton took two handguns and a semi-automatic machine gun to the home of a family in Linlithgow.  The boys in the family attended Linlithgow Boys Club and one of them had attended his camp on Inchmoan Island that year.  Thomas Hamilton had been in the habit of visiting the house and had mentioned his interest in guns.  When the boys showed an interest in them he offered to bring them to the house.   On this occasion he told the family how the firearms were held and used.   He did not have any ammunition with him.  The father took photographs of his wife and the boys holding the firearms.  This incident was reported to the police at Stirling on 20 May 1989.  Sergeant McGrane of the Lothian and Borders Police stationed at Bathgate was instructed to take statements as to what had happened.  He attended their home on the evening of that day for that purpose.  He ascertained from them that they had not been distressed by what had happened and had not complained to the police about it.  However, he had the impression that they had not been at ease with someone bringing guns into their house.  He did not pass on this impression with the statements. In evidence he said that he did not consider that Thomas Hamilton's behaviour was normal.  He did not think that a firearms certificate holder should act in that way.  He sent the statements and photographs which he had obtained to Inspector Nimmo of the Stirling Police who had instructed him.  She felt that it was not very wise for Thomas Hamilton to take the firearms and show them to the children.  She passed the papers on to Chief Supt Gunn on 30 June 1989.  He in turn wrote a memorandum to the DCC McMurdoLINK, stating:- "It may be quite a harmless display of weapons, but nevertheless an action which leaves a lot to be desired".  This is a matter which was taken up in due course with Mr McMurdo when he was giving evidence.LINK

One curious feature of this episode is that the report to the police which set off their enquiries was an incident log which showed that the report had been made by Mrs Doreen Hagger and contained a correct note of her then address and telephone number, as well as the address of the family to whom the firearms had been shown.  However, in her evidence, Mrs Hagger said that she did not report the matter to the police.  She could not do so because she did not have the family's address, but merely their telephone number.  The mother had phoned her and told her that Thomas Hamilton had come to her house in Linlithgow with two or three guns.  She did not know what kind of guns they were.  The last she heard of this matter was when the mother had spoken to her on the telephone.  She had no recollection of saying to a police officer that, as stated in the incident log, Thomas Hamilton could become violent and use weapons against her as she was involved in reporting him for complaints involving children.  I do not understand how particulars relating to Mrs Hagger as the informant could realistically have been entered on the log unless she did make a report to the police.

Another episode concerning Thomas Hamilton was spoken to by Inspector Ralph.  He gave evidence that some 7-10 years before his death, Thomas Hamilton made an informal complaint to him about the behaviour of two police officers who had come across him with an air weapon in Stirling and told him that he could be charged with recklessly discharging it.  He was particularly indignant because the police officers had taken hold of the weapon and waved it about.  Since Thomas Hamilton had made no formal complaint the Inspector took no further action.  Enquiries made after 13 March 1996 revealed no record by the police of any such incident as was alleged by Thomas Hamilton.

In the course of her evidence Mrs Doreen Hagger gave an account of an occasion on which Thomas Hamilton pointed a gun at her.  This account was the subject of considerable publicity after she was interviewed by members of the press on 14 March 1996.  The incident, she alleged, had occurred at Bridgend, Linlithgow some time after she had been interviewed by Inspector Keenan in January 1989 in connection with his report on Thomas Hamilton's complaint.  She said that she and Mrs Janet Reilly, had been coming back from the shops and had picked up her daughter Vicky after she had been dropped off the school bus in the main street.  They were just getting to her gate when a light coloured transit van driven by Thomas Hamilton "slammed up at the pavement".  She then said:-

"He rolled the window down and he said, 'I hear you have been making statements about me to Keenan.'   I said, 'That's right'.  I said, 'I just told him about the state of the camp, how you treated the kids, and my own personal opinion of you.'  And at that he leaned forward, his face was all puffy.  When he used to get in a rage his face would go puffy, would blow up and really bulge ...  He leant forward and I thought he was going to start the engine up, after the mouthful I gave him, and the next thing I heard a click of metal hitting glass, and I looked down and there was a bit of metal there.  It didn't register with me right away, and I just looked at him and he said 'My friends don't like it' ...  I looked again and that is when I realised that it was a barrel, and I said, 'Dinnae point that f'ng thing at me.  I will ram it down your throat'.  He just got really bulging and never said a word, off he went."

Mrs Hagger said that she used to pick up Vicky from the bus at about 2.45 - 2.50 pm.  She was quite clear that the date of this encounter was before the incident at Linlithgow Academy on 16 May when she and Mrs Reilly assaulted Thomas Hamilton.  Vicky was then seven years of age. Later in her evidence she described the barrel of the gun as having "a bit sticking up at the end of it".  After Thomas Hamilton had driven off, she went into the house with Mrs Reilly.  After they had talked together they agreed that the police station should be telephoned about what had happened.  Later a couple of officers in uniform came round and she told them what had happened.  They returned in one or two days and told her that Thomas Hamilton had been going to a gun club and had not meant to scare them.  As far as she was concerned Thomas Hamilton had not threatened to shoot her, but she was meant to be a bit worried about him.  She said: "I thought the man was a complete idiot.  He didn't bother me".

According to Mrs Hagger, when she was at the camp on Inchmoan Island she did not get on well with Thomas Hamilton.  She left the island when "he threatened me once too often".  His threat was "I hope your tent doesn't catch fire tonight".  Another adult who had been assisting with the camp at that stage had threatened Mrs Reilly.  According to Mrs Reilly, Mrs Hagger left the island because Thomas Hamilton had threatened Mrs Hagger with a gun, but the basis for this was that she had seen that Mrs Hagger was frightened.    She told her that Thomas Hamilton had had a gun in his hand.   The adult referred to by Mrs Hagger had threatened to kill Mrs Hagger with an axe and set fire to the tent.   In his closing submission, Mr C M Campbell submitted that for Thomas Hamilton to have referred to his guns as his "friends" had a ring of truth about it.  It may well be true that on some occasion Thomas Hamilton told Mrs Hagger that his guns were his "friends": and indeed Mrs Hagger gave evidence that he said this at the camp.

- ENDS -

The last six months


In this chapter it will be endeavoured to put together the picture of Thomas Hamilton's character and attitudes which emerged from the evidence, before turning to an account of events during the last six months of his life. While this cannot provide a full explanation as to what led him to perpetrate the outrage on 13 March 1996, it may provide some pointers as to the factors which were at work in his mind.  The section concludes with an assessment of Thomas Hamilton which has been derived from expert evidence given by a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

Thomas Hamilton's character and attitudes

Thomas Hamilton claimed in a number of letters that the rumours about him in 1983 caused the collapse of his shop business.  However, it is more likely that this was due to the effect of competition from modern DIY stores and to his preoccupation with boys clubs and camps.  He saw the clubs as a means of making a success of the camps.  Mr D G McGregor, a former employee of Central Regional Council, whom he consulted about 1980 in regard to the qualifications required by someone running a gymnastics club, recalled that "he was interested in running camps during the summer months, but in order to ... get recruits, you might say, along to the camps he felt it necessary that he would have to run clubs during the winter".

The evidence showed that Thomas Hamilton was constantly engaged in recruiting boys and that he could be abusive to parents who withdrew their sons.

He was not averse to using deceitful or at any rate questionable methods of attracting support. His description as to the intended activities, his own qualifications, the number of helpers and the charges which would be made for membership not infrequently bore little relation to what happened.  In order to gain an appearance of respectability he represented that a committee was responsible for the running of clubs and he made use of the names of officials as "contacts".  He took photographs of boys without their parents' knowledge or consent.  He issued misleading information as to the circumstances in which he had left the Scouts.

At the same time he was extremely intolerant of those who questioned the way in which he ran the clubs and camps.  It is also clear that he had an inflated view of his own importance and that of his activities.  Mr B D Fairgrieve said of a meeting with Thomas Hamilton in 1974, where he had been subjected to a long and rambling discourse: "I formed the impression that he had a persecution complex, that he had delusions of grandeur and I felt his actions were almost paranoia."   When DCC McMurdo wrote to The Scottish Office on 14 January 1992, he made a number of remarks which showed that he was plainly exasperated with Thomas Hamilton's statements.  His remarks included: "For Mr Hamilton to see his tiny local organisation as a serious rival to the Scouting movement indicates a certain lack of perspective".   When Thomas Hamilton was criticised he would reply with elaborate self-justification and often adopted attack as a means of defence.

Thomas Hamilton harboured a long-standing grievance against the Scouts and the police.   In the large volume of correspondence which he generated a recurring theme is his assertion that the police were biased in favour of the "brotherhood of masons" and that there was a "brotherhood"LINK between the Scouts and the police  [Ed ~ Being a Mason himselfLINK, Thomas Hamilton would know!]   Evidence was given by a number of his acquaintances of his bitter complaints of having been victimised by the police and having suffered hard treatment at the hands of local authorities.  [Ed ~ Evidence was persistently given that the police and local authorities allowed Thomas Hamilton to lead a "charmed life" in spite of consistent complaints against him from a wide range of people covering a wide range of authorites.]  When Mr W B McFarlane met him from time to time during the last 7 or 8 years of his life he found that Thomas Hamilton's conversation was "all one way ... he was anti-police, he was anti-establishment, he was anti-the education authority, he seemed to be anti-anybody who opposed his views on how the clubs should be run or whether they should be run".  Thomas Hamilton knew that he was being referred to as a pervert and thought that teachers and parents had been discouraging boys from attending his clubs.  He told an acquaintance that, if he stopped running the clubs, people would have considered that rumours about him were true.

I will refer later to expert evidence which was given as to the nature of Thomas Hamilton's sexuality, but for the present it may be of some significance to note some of the observations as to the way in which he treated the boys.   There are a number of indications that he sought to domineer and that he was insensitive to their comfort and safety.  At the camps there was a general lack of adequate supervision; the boys were found to have insufficient clothing for the prevailing weather; he insisted on making a videofilm when the boys were cold and wet; and he insisted that the boys should be denied contact with their parents.  It was not surprising that they became homesick and upset.

Thomas Hamilton did not form any close relationship with an adult of either sex.  His natural mother, Mrs Agnes Watt, stated that he had had a girlfriend a long time ago. However, after she got too serious "he didn't want to know".  Mr F B Cullen, who assisted him in his shop, said that he was nervous among adults and very uncomfortable amongst females in particular.  The events on 13 March 1996 may have made some people reluctant to admit that they were friends of Thomas Hamilton, but it could reasonably be assumed he had few friends but more than a few acquaintances.  The impression which he made on people varied.  He was "a generous man to work with and a kind man", according to Mr Cullen.  Mr E J E Anderson, who was associated with him in the running of the Dunblane Rovers Group and the Dunblane Boys' Club, referred to him as "a very shy, lonely person ... a very quiet, kind individual"; and Mr D MacDonald who had been a member of one of his clubs and who was regularly in touch with him said that he was "quite an intelligent man ... interesting enough to talk to".  On the other hand, some found that he made them feel uncomfortable and did not like talking to him.  They were uneasy about the way in which he walked and spoke.  A neighbour described him as follows: "He sort of crept.  He was very head-down".  He spoke slowly, softly and precisely but without expression in his voice.  Mr G S Crawford, Secretary of the Stirling Rifle and Pistol Club said: "Hamilton was a loner, he wouldn't engage in social conversation with anybody; it is known also that women members didn't particularly like being around him.   He was a bit of a creep in their eyes".  Mr J S B Wilson said: "He was unusual....effeminate.  He had a tendency to sort of wring his hands.  There was a bit of a feeling of discomfort".  Mr G Baxter, Head of the Woodmill Centre, Dunfermline, found that Thomas Hamilton was unusual in that "he didn't laugh at anything.  He didn't joke at anything.   He was far too polite".  Some neighbours referred to him as sly and devious.  A number of witnesses remarked that the only thing that he was interested in was boys clubs, so that it was difficult to carry on a conversation with him.  A number of witnesses described him as being peculiarly calm in the face of adversity.  Thus Mr George Robertson MP so described him in the face of hostile questioning from parents.  His reaction to the incident on 16 May 1989 when he was assaulted by Mrs Hagger and Mrs Reilly is particularly strikingLINK.  Finally while there were some boys who regarded him as a nice man, others found him "weird".

Events during the last 6 months of Thomas Hamilton's life

Thomas Hamilton's Boys' Clubs

By September 1995, there had been a substantial decline in Thomas Hamilton's clubs.  The Menstrie, Alva and Tillicoultry Club had ended in March; and a proposed club at Callander had come to grief when only one boy had attended.  On 18 August, he had issued a large number of circular letters to parents in Dunblane in order to deal, he said, with the false and misleading gossip about him which had been circulated by Scout officials.   The letter stated that it was rumoured that he had been put out of the Scouts or asked to leave in sinister circumstances, whereas it was he who had left the Scouts.LINK  The letter went on to say that despite the severe and obvious difficulties the Dunblane Group had operated for 15 years.  He added that "many young athletes had been lost needlessly over the years and others deterred from attending".  However, 25 boys had attended the sports training course at Dunblane High School in the summer of 1995.

It is clear that Thomas Hamilton intended to make up for the difficulties nearer home by going further afield.  In the autumn of 1995, he obtained a let in Thomas Muir High School, Bishopbriggs for a newly formed Bishopbriggs Boys Club.  In order to obtain the let at an advantageous rate he obtained recognition as an approved youth organisation.  For this purpose he had to comply with a number of conditions, the most important of which was to provide two references in support of his application, each referee stating that "the leaders are known to me and are worthy of support".  One of the references was signed by Councillor Ball, who by then had become the convenor of the Education Committee of Central Regional Council.LINK In evidence Councillor Ball said that he had had misgivings about signing but felt that it was difficult to refuse.  He accepted that he had not given the matter as much attention as he should have done.  In his application Thomas Hamilton said that there was to be a committee of 12 adults, mostly parents.  His natural mother was shown as the treasurer and a young assistant, Ian Boal, as secretary.LINK The application was granted after an official of Central Regional Council had advised Strathclyde Regional Council that Thomas Hamilton's activities should be monitored.

In the meantime, Thomas Hamilton decided that he would withdraw from personal involvement in the Falkirk Boys Club.  He persuaded a parent, Mr D P Jones, to take over the leadership of the club from the second week in November.  This arrangement ended in early March when Mr Jones was unable to continue on account of his work commitments.   Thomas Hamilton looked in from time to time at the meetings of the Club, the last time being in January or February 1996.

Meanwhile, Mr Boal, who was an undergraduate student in sport in the community, began running the Bishopbriggs Boys Club.LINK  He said in evidence that he never met the members of its committee.  He had expected to be running the club himself, but Thomas Hamilton appeared every week.  To his annoyance Mr Boal found that Thomas Hamilton had distributed leaflets which not only named him as club coach but also gave his telephone number.  In January, he wrote to Mr Boal criticising his coaching methods.   In response, Mr Boal said that he would go on only until Easter.  In evidence, he said: "I wasn't going to put up with the hassle he was giving me through writing a letter like that to me".  At this stage boys were being bussed to Dunblane from not only Bishopbriggs but also Callander and Bannockburn. It is known from a letter which Thomas Hamilton wrote to Mr Michael Forsyth MP on 11 February 1996, that only 5 boys from Dunblane still attended the Dunblane Boys Club, and that only one of them had attended the sports training course in July 1995.LINK  Mr Boal last saw Thomas Hamilton on 11 March when his parting words to him were, "Thanks very much, Ian, see you next Monday".  Mr Boal had not noticed any change in him.  He said: "His personality was very dry.  He wasn't the most interesting person to have a conversation with".

Thomas Hamilton applied for the use of Dunblane High School for a summer training course in 1996.  Mr R Mercer who was then caretaker at the Menstrie Community Centre, gave evidence that on 12 March in a telephone conversation Thomas Hamilton requested the use of the Centre's minibus on 14 March.  However, information was given later in the Inquiry that the witness had, since giving evidence, indicated to the Crown that, to the best of his recollection, the accurate date for this conversation was 7 March.  Little turns on this but it indicates that to outward appearances Thomas Hamilton was still actively planning for his club activities.

Thomas Hamilton's activities with firearms

While Thomas Hamilton's activities with boys were going into decline, his interest in firearms was resurgent.  As I will explain in Chapter 6 he appears to have been relatively inactive for a number of years until 1995.  His firearms certificate did not contain any record of a purchase of ammunition between 22 October 1987 and 22 September 1995.  The evidence strongly indicates that Thomas Hamilton did not reload his ammunition (an operation which would not require to be recorded on the firearms certificate) but that he purchased commercially-made ammunition.  Purchases of ammunition from clubs did not require to be entered in the firearms certificate unless the ammunition was not used on the occasion when it was purchased and was taken away.  Accordingly, it seems unlikely that Thomas Hamilton was actively shooting to any significant extent during this period.  [Ed ~ Wrong!   Thomas Hamilton was a frequent visitor to the military boarding school shooting range at Queen Victoria School, Dunblane.LINK]  On various occasions between 22 September 1995 and 27 February 1996, he purchased a total of 1700 rounds of 9 mm and 500 rounds of .357 ammunition.  On 11 September 1995 and 23 January 1996, he purchased a 9 mm Browning pistol and a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver.  He had had the authority to acquire such firearms since February 1992.  These were two of the handguns which he took with him to the school on 13 March; and the 9 mm Browning pistol was the competition model (pistol A) with which he shot his victims.LINK  In January 1996, Thomas Hamilton bought two holsters, apparently for the two revolvers which he now owned.

Thomas Hamilton now became much more active as a shooter.  In January 1996, he shot at the Whitestone range used by the Stirling Rifle and Pistol Club.  When he attended a meeting there in February Mr G F Smith, the president of the club, noted that his shooting was reasonably good.  It surprised him that he fired very rapidly all the time but he knew that this was what he always seemed to do.  He said to Thomas Hamilton that with a bit of practice he ought to be going in for competitions.  While he was giving him a lift home, Thomas Hamilton told him that he was a coach.  This surprised Mr Smith as it didn't seem to him that he was the sort of person who could get children interested.  He didn't find him very interesting himself.  He found him slightly effeminate and didn't particularly like him.

On 2 March, Thomas Hamilton was given a lift to Largs, where the club members were to shoot.  At that meeting he again fired very rapidly.  He used red or orange stickers on paper targets, apparently as guides for him to aim at.  Mr G S Crawford told him that that was not what they were there for and took them down.  Thomas Hamilton had used similar stickers at the Whitestone Range.  When Thomas Hamilton was taking part in the service pistol discipline, which includes the firing of three rounds at each of two targets at 10 metres in 6 seconds, Thomas Hamilton expended 12 rounds on one target with one pistol, at which Mr Crawford said to him "that is out of order".  At that meeting he was using principally the 9 mm Browning pistol which was the competition model.  Mr W P Campbell, a member of the club who drove Thomas Hamilton back to Stirling, recalled that when he got out of the car in Stirling, his cousin Alexis Fawcett, who was a probationary member, and had been in the back of the car with Thomas Hamilton, referred to him saying: "That is a right weirdo, that one" and she said that he had referred to stroking his gun.  She added: "He talks about guns as though they were babies".

On 24 February 1996, Thomas Hamilton approached an official of Callander Rifle and Pistol Club with a view to regularly shooting with them.  Two days later after passing a marksmanship test he was allowed to shoot on their range.  He put up his own target sheets with similar stickers on them and took them home afterwards.  On 28 February, he took part in a police pistol 1.  It was observed that at 25 metres distance, where 12 shots were required within two minutes, he let forth "a fusillade of shots".  At 10 metres distance, where 2 shots required to be fired within two seconds, he let off 4 shots before he could be stopped.  He handed in a form applying for probationary membership but it lacked a supporting signature.

On 6 March, he informed a club official that there had been "a bit of a hold up" about obtaining the signature.  He told the official, Mr J A C Moffat, that he had been away from shooting for quite a while and wanted to get back into it, now that he had more time on his hands.   On that day Thomas Hamilton also used stickers and put the sheets in a book after he had used them.   Mr N K Bell, a probationary member, noticed that Thomas Hamilton fired off a lot more rounds than he had ever seen anyone else doing.   He felt very uncomfortable about him.  Thomas Hamilton had insisted Mr Bell should try his Browning (not the murder weaponLINK) although the latter was quite happy with his .22 pistol.  He appeared to be angry when Mr Bell queried whether his club was using the gymnasium at Dunblane High School on Thursdays.  Mr Bell mentioned to his wife that he was concerned about Thomas Hamilton - more in relation to his being involved with children than in regard to firearms.  His wife told him that there was no point in doing anything about it because the Regional Council would never have allowed him to run a club unless it was appropriate.

Mr Mercer gave evidence that Thomas Hamilton hired the minibus from Menstrie Community Centre about 6 or 7 times at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996.   On one occasion he noticed that Thomas Hamilton had left a tin of gun oil on the minibus.  When he spoke to him about it Thomas Hamilton said he needed it to oil some hinges on the bus.  Thomas Hamilton also asked him if he had ever had guns or fired guns.  He brought gun magazines for him to look at.  On one occasion he brought an unloaded handgun with him when he came to pick up the minibus.  He said that he had thousands of rounds of ammunition in his house.  Mr Mercer did not tell anybody about being shown the gun.  He didn't think anything of it.  Thomas Hamilton assured him at the time that he had a firearms certificate.

Mr Boal noticed that while he was working for Thomas Hamilton the camera equipment disappeared, and guns took over the conversation.  At Christmas 1995, Thomas Hamilton said that he was heavily involved in them.  Three or four weeks before he last saw him he kept talking about bullets and what certain bullets could do.  Looking back on the conversation, Mr Boal thought it quite strange that he talked about the "spray" of a bullet which disintegrated rather than passed through its target.   He was also testing to see which bullets were best to prevent jamming of his handgun.  He had experimented with shooting at books when he would see the "spray" of the bullets going through the thickness.  He said that he liked the videos of Alien and Terminator because of the guns.  On one occasion, Mr Boal discovered from speaking to the boys that Thomas Hamilton had told them that he had shot a moose and had showed them an ammunition catalogue.  When Mr Boal said to him that he should not be talking to children about guns, Thomas Hamilton replied to this effect: "It's O.K., kids play soldiers all the time".

Mr J O Gillespie was a reasonably frequent visitor to the house of Thomas Hamilton until about 4-5 weeks before 13 March.  On that last occasion Thomas Hamilton had a 9 mm pistol in his hand.  He asked Mr Gillespie whether, if he had any kids, he would allow them to attend his club.  When Mr Gillespie replied in the negative, Thomas Hamilton pointed the pistol at him and pulled the trigger.  Nothing was in the chamber.  Mr Gillespie got a fright, called him a "stupid bastard", threw coffee at him and walked out smartly.  He would not have allowed his children to attend as Thomas Hamilton was "too military".  Mr Gillespie did not report this incident to the police as he knew that Thomas Hamilton would have denied it.  It gave him the idea that he was dangerous.  He had too many guns in the house for anyone to have.

On 1 March, Isobel Martin, the Head Teacher at a primary school, who had become aware of Thomas Hamilton's setting up of the Bishopbriggs Boys Club, received a complaint from the parent of one of her pupils about Thomas Hamilton's behaviour.  According to this complaint he appeared to be taking an exceptional interest in her son and one of his friends.   He had offered to pick up the boy to take him to a different club in Stirling.  The parent had been informed that Thomas Hamilton had shown the boys photographs of wild animals, and had shown them a gun which he kept in the minibus which he used to transport the boys.  He had been increasing the amount of time between picking up the boy and collecting the other children.  He also asked her son if he liked the film Alien and offered to give him a videotape of it to take home to watch.  He also said to her son that he went shooting and offered to take him with him.  Her son was 11 years of age.  The Head Teacher noted this complaint.  After obtaining some advice from the local education officer she addressed a letter to the Social Work Department in Bishopbriggs.  Having received no response to that letter she made a telephone call to that department on 12 March to check that her letter had been received.  Later that day the department contacted her and said that they would send a social worker to visit the parent who had been wondering why no one from the department had been in touch with her.  The events of 13 March intervened before any further steps could be taken.

Thomas Hamilton's finances

It is clear that during the last 6 months of his life Thomas Hamilton was in serious financial difficulties.  In previous years he had consumed any free capital which became available to him.  In 1983, he had received a payment from the insurers of his boat which was destroyed; and in 1985 he received a substantial payment from the sale of his shop business.  In each case the payments were used to meet existing overdrafts and his current expenditure.  It appears that he regularly made a loss in the running of his boys clubs and camps.  At one stage he had a substantial number of cameras in his house but his trading in them led to him losing his right to claim unemployment benefit in November 1993.  By the end of 1995 there had been a considerable reduction in his camera business.  He also suffered a setback when the Amateur Photographer refused to carry his advertisements.

An examination of his finances as at the date of his death was carried out by Chief Inspector Hughes.  This showed that he had made heavy use of accounts with Debenhams and Barclaycard in order to provide finance for his everyday living.   At his death he owed £737.74 to Debenhams and on 8 March he had reached the limit of £1,500 on his Barclaycard account.  He had no capital in a bank or building society.  He had a total overdraft of £3,511.  He was in receipt of housing benefit for 7 Kent Road.  He owed £2,350 in respect of a loan which had been made to him in 1994 to provide finance for his camera business.  His application for a further loan in 1996 had been refused.   He did not have much income from cameras.  He was in arrears with payment of the council tax.

Thomas Hamilton's mood

To a number of those who gave evidence he appeared to be his normal self.  His natural mother met him on 11 March; and on 12 March he came round for four hours in the afternoon, had a bath and something to eat and "blethered" with her.  However, other witnesses were aware of a change in his mood.  Mr R P C Allston, a photographer, who only knew Thomas Hamilton from telephone conversations with him, described him as being very subdued and depressed at the end of February.  Thomas Hamilton told him that he was shooting more and more as this took his mind off his problems.  On 6 March, he hardly spoke.  The last thing he said was, "I am going back to my guns", and then he rang off.   Mr D Macdonald spoke to him on the evening of 12 March.  He said that he was lonely and it was not good to be alone.  Mr Macdonald said that the telephone conversation "went flat".  Over the past 6 months Thomas Hamilton had been less enthusiastic about his camera business.  Mr A J Togneri said that on 11 March Thomas Hamilton sounded very unhappy and subdued.  He said that the numbers at his clubs were down.  Mr G E Macdonald said that Thomas Hamilton did not answer at his door when he called on 10 March but he knew that he definitely was in.   Some 5 or 6 weeks earlier Thomas Hamilton had telephoned him and seemed "awful down".  He said that he had hassle in Dunblane and the club there was not doing very well.  When he ran him home on 6 March he had a lot of letters with him.  He had a "slight grudge" against the people who were slandering him.

On 26 January 1996, Thomas Hamilton wrote a letter to Councillor Ball.LINK  Although it was headed "Private and Confidential" he sent copies to a number of Head Teachers of primary schools in the area, in particular St Francis Primary School, Falkirk, Bannockburn Primary School and Dunblane Primary School; and to the Scout Association and Mr David Vass.  He complained in the letter that teachers at Bannockburn Primary School were informing pupils and parents that he was a pervert.  As a result all of the 26 pupils who were members of his Bannockburn Boys Club had left immediately and local gossip followed.  He complained that the Education Department had done nothing to correct the situation which was widespread.  He added: "At Dunblane Primary School where teachers have contaminated all of the older boys with this poison even former cleaners and dinner ladies have been told by the teachers at school that I am a pervert.   There have been reports at many schools of our boys being rounded up by the staff and even warnings given to entire schools by Head Teachers during assembly".  He said that this had been extremely damaging not only to his clubs but to his own public standing and had resulted in a complete loss of his ability to earn a living.   He said: "I have no criminal record nor have I ever been accused of sexual child abuse by any child and I am not a pervert".  He had called at Bannockburn Primary School and Dunblane Primary School and expressed a similar complaint to the Head Teachers about members of staff discouraging boys from attending his clubs and suggesting that he was a pervert.  Thomas Hamilton went on to say in his letter that the matter had originated in 1983 when an official of the Education Department had warned Head Teachers that he was a pervert, was currently interfering with boys and had been put out of the Scouts for this and had a long criminal record for this type of offence.  He said that this official and his reported source in the Scouts were fully discredited and the clubs' use of schools was returned.  However, the information which the official had passed to Head Teachers had never been corrected "and has over the years reached epidemic proportions".  He blamed the malicious work of the Scout official in his attempt to undermine "what he considers to be a rival group".  He claimed that all this serious damage had resulted from the maladministration of Central Regional Council and its failure to correct the false information.   In evidence, Councillor Ball commented that Thomas Hamilton never seemed to be able to put the past behind him.  Judging by his letter, "his mental state" was slightly deteriorating.  He had last met Thomas Hamilton in the summer of 1995 when he "sounded fine".  But this letter was a bit worrying.   Mr Vass telephoned Councillor Ball in order to make it clear that at no time had he suggested that anything improper had taken place between Thomas Hamilton and Scouts.

On 11 February 1996, Thomas Hamilton wrote to Mr Michael Forsyth MP complaining of many serious problems which he had experienced over the years of which the root cause was "malicious gossip" circulated by certain Scout officials.LINK  He referred to the problem in 1983 with the Central Regional Council which, he said, resulted from Scout officials approaching a councillor.  He referred once more to the disruption to his camps in 1988 and 1991.  Although he understood that senior officers of Central Scotland Police were satisfied that everything was all right, he had been unable to recover from the very serious damage caused by the police which had compounded the very difficult situation which already existed.  The long term effect "has been a death blow to my already difficult work in providing sports and leisure activities to local children as well as my public standing in the community".

On 6 March, Thomas Hamilton made a telephone call to the headquarters of the Scout Association in Scotland and asked who was its patron.  He also enquired about the names of other high ranking officials but was told that these were not to hand.  In the conversation Thomas Hamilton went on to say he wanted the Queen, who was the patron, or other high ranking officials to know about the maladministration of the Scouts.  It was being put about that he was a pervert.  A certain official was going around the schools telling everybody that he was a pervert when he was only an enthusiastic and friendly leader.  He had tried to start up boys clubs on numerous occasions but because the official had gone into the schools it was very difficult for him.  As a result of the rumours he could no longer walk down the street, his reputation had been ruined and he was close to bankruptcy.  This telephone conversation was followed by a letter from Thomas Hamilton to the Queen dated 7 March in which he rehearsed the complaints which he had repeatedly made in correspondence.   His letter closed with the words: "I turn to you as a last resort and am appealing for some kind of intervention in the hope that I may be able to regain my self-esteem in society".  Copies of this letter were sent by him to Councillor Ball,LINK Mr Forsyth, the Scout Association and certain senior Scout officials and the Head Teachers of Bannockburn and Dunblane Primary Schools.


The Inquiry heard the written statement of a boy of 9 years of age who attended Dunblane Primary School and was a member of the Dunblane Boys Club.  He stated that on 7 March when he had been playing football at the club Thomas Hamilton took him out and sat him on a bench in order to speak to him.  He then continued: "He asked me the way to the gym and the way to the hall.  He asked what time certain classes went to the gym and the main way into the school. He asked directions about once he was in the main hall, how to get to the gym and where the stage was.  He asked how to get to the Assembly Hall, and I told him to turn right after the main entrance.  He said what day do all people go on the stage to do the play.  I didn't know and he said to ask the P7s to find out.  He asked if the younger children, like the primary 1s to 4s go to the assembly at a different time to the primary 5s to 7s.  I told him that the assembly was on a Wednesday morning and that the younger ones went after us.   He asked me what time did assembly start and gym, I said 9.30 for assembly.  I didn't tell him the time for gym ...  The other question was something to do with the gym fire exit.  I think it was how many fire exits there were to get out of the gym.  Mr Hamilton asked me these questions every single week.  He had been asking me these questions for a long time, about 2 years.  He didn't ask me any more questions and said I could go back to playing football".  According to his father the boy's first reaction to hearing that Thomas Hamilton had been involved in the shooting was: "It can't be Mr Hamilton, he was a nice guy".  Later he told his father about Thomas Hamilton asking him about the school.  His father queried whether Thomas Hamilton had asked him for directions every week.  The boy replied "Well, for quite a while".

Mr J S B Wilson, who is a retired police officer, met Thomas Hamilton on 7 or 8 March in Stirling.  In the course of conversation Thomas Hamilton said that he could do with some instruction in shooting at a distance of 10 yards.  He went on to say that the authorities were against him and he seemed to be anti-police.  He then said that as far as he was concerned the police were scared to go in when Michael Ryan started shooting at Hungerford.  He went on to talk about a firearms incident at Cowie, just outside Stirling, where a police vehicle had been blasted by a shot gun after the police had responded to a call about someone running about with it.  He said that the police firearms team should have taken care of it.  He then asked whether firearms were kept at all police offices.  Mr Wilson responded that this certainly was not the case while he was a police officer.  It applied only to places which were manned 24 hours a day.  Thomas Hamilton then said that there should be a permanent firearms response unit available so that they could get to the scene very quickly.  It was obvious to Mr Wilson that he had read quite a bit about the subject but he did not get the impression at the time that Thomas Hamilton was looking for information.

On 2 or 3 March, Mr Robert Mark Ure saw Thomas Hamilton coming out of the grounds of Braehead Primary School in Stirling.LINK  Thomas Hamilton said that he had been away organising another boys club and "seemed agitated as if he had been caught out".  On 10 March when he met him in Stirling he was carrying a briefcase of the type which is fitted out for carrying guns.  On 4 March, he came to the office of Mr D G McGregor and in the course of conversation said that he had bought two shirts in Debenhams.  He passed the remark: "the beauty of it is I will never have to pay for them ever".

In January, Thomas Hamilton had purchased the pliers with which he cut the telephone wires near Dunblane Primary School on 13 March.

On 12 March, he travelled to Dunblane from Stirling in the middle of the day.  About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the same day he was in Stirling again and hired the van which he drove to the school on the following day.  The hire was for a single day as from about 3 pm.  He wanted to pay the entire charge in advance but he was told that it should be paid on return.  He left a deposit of £50.  The receptionist at the hire company said that "he unnerved me quite a bit ... the way he spoke mainly.  He spoke very slowly, very clearly, precisely, but with no emotion or expression ... there was just nothing, nothing in there.  You couldn't have held a conversation with him".

It may be noted that in the course of his evidence Mr W B MacFarlane said that Thomas Hamilton "was very methodical, he was nobody's fool ... I think his life and everything he did was well thought out in advance before he actually did it".

As was pointed out by Dr J A Baird, consultant forensic psychiatrist in one of his reports, it appears that Thomas Hamilton planned carefully in order to ensure that nothing would go wrong at the school on 13 March.  Each of the magazines was marked in such a way as to ensure that it was inserted the correct way round.  The manner in which cartridges were loaded into the magazines may suggest that this was intended to avoid any risk of the pistol jamming.  Over each shoulder he had a canvas bag which contained ammunition.  The bags had been tied open so that they could not close accidentally.  They also had cardboard inserts so that they would not collapse.  Further the route which he took when approaching the school buildings appears to show pre-planning and local knowledge.  In view of the evidence it may be that his original intention had been to enter the Assembly Hall while assembly was in progress.

What was found at 7 Kent Road

After the shootings the police found at 7 Kent Road 715 rounds of 9 mm and 280 rounds of .357 ammunition, along with 11 rounds of .38 special. If the 501 rounds of 9 mm and 242 rounds of .357 ammunition taken to Dunblane Primary School are added, it follows that before he departed for the school he had a total of 1216 rounds of 9 mm and 522 rounds of .357 ammunition.  The police also found a telephone directory open at the page containing the telephone number of Dunblane Primary School; and on the walls of the rear bedroom a number of targets with stickers of the type which Thomas Hamilton had used at the club meetings.  There were no photographs hanging on the walls of any of the rooms but a total of 445 slides, 542 photographs and 4,260 negatives were found during a search of the house.  The majority of these showed boys with their tops bare.  There were also 37 videotapes of the type described earlier.  There was also a collection of swimming trunks, most of which were black.

Psychological and psychiatric evidence

The Inquiry was provided with a report on Thomas Hamilton by Professor David J Cooke, Head of Forensic Clinical Psychology for the Greater Glasgow Health Board, Community and Mental Health Trust and Professor of Forensic Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University; along with a further report by him on the subject of prediction of violent behaviour from the psychological perspective.  In addition, the Inquiry had the benefit of three reports prepared by Dr J A Baird, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and former Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and Physician Superintendent at the State Hospital, Carstairs containing a psychiatric assessment of Thomas Hamilton.  These witnesses were given sight of various productions and were supplied with other information which provided an insight into the life of Thomas Hamilton.  They also had the opportunity to read transcripts of evidence given at the Inquiry.

Before coming to their views as to Thomas Hamilton's state of mind it is convenient to set out what they inferred as to his intentions.  Professor Cooke said that there were major difficulties in Thomas Hamilton's life which threatened his self-esteem.   He was in debt.  He was refused a loan.   He was being refused access to premises to hold his boys clubs and fewer boys were attending the clubs.  [Ed ~ Hamilton led a "charmed life", assisted by many people in the police and local authorities; keeping in mind the repetitive number of complaints against him!]  It may have been the case that, like many mass killers, he obtained feelings of power and mastery by fantasising his revenge on those whom he perceived as persecuting him.  It is likely that his fantasies became more complex and compelling after "behavioural tryouts" when firing at his gun club.  He believed that school staff were telling families not to send children to his clubs and that parents were spreading rumours that he was a pervert.  Professor Cooke commented on Thomas Hamilton's actions: "Perhaps the most powerful way of getting back at people like that is to kill their children.  That is a very traumatic thing to happen.   Perhaps he thought he would make maximum impact by doing that.   Again, that is speculation".  There had been meticulous planning and preparation, so he did not think that Thomas Hamilton had "flipped".  [Ed ~ That doesn't say much for the human species.]  Dr Baird accepted that after the event it was possible to formulate explanations for the commission of the murders but he was still at a loss to express any reason which would satisfy himself as to why they were committed.  [Ed ~ What about the prospect that Hamilton would know - or would think he knew - that his former allies and protectors in the Masons and the paedophile ring would be outed in the inquiry that would inevitably follow?]  In his first report he observed that a number of pieces of evidence showed that Thomas Hamilton had planned the events very carefully in order that nothing would go wrong.  He appeared to have taken pride and almost to have enjoyed the preparation for his crimes.  His single specific intention was to kill himself but once he embarked on his murderous spree his victims appeared to have been entirely random.  It was possible that he had selected a school because of his association with schools or because, unlike with adults, he would have been much less likely to experience opposition and his victims were the most vulnerable and the most defenceless he could have selected.  He went on to state: "It was not my impression that he particularly relished in the killing spree or wanted to prolong it as there was no reason for him to have killed himself at the moment when he did other than to avoid running the risk that emergency services might arrive on the scene and prevent him from killing himself".  [Ed ~ Thomas Hamilton appears to be the only person who could have killed himself twice.LINK]

Both Professor Cooke and Dr Baird ruled out any form of mental illness.  In particular, Dr Baird said that there was no evidence of changes which would have been expected with the onset of mental illness.  Furthermore, mental conditions could be quite disabling.  It is clear from the evidence that Thomas Hamilton had no history of mental illness or anything suggestive of such an illness.  [Ed ~ In whose world?]  In passing, I note that he did not attend a doctor between January 1974 and the date of his death, apart from attendance at hospital for a sprained ankle in March 1993.  He did not smoke or drink.  A post mortem examination disclosed no form of physical abnormality which could account for his behaviour.  Tests on samples from his body showed no evidence of intoxication with alcohol or of drugs abuse; and no evidence of chronic lead poisoning or chronic misuse of androgenic steroids.

Each of these experts detected what they regarded as signs or traits of abnormal personality in Thomas Hamilton, although they did not fully agree as to how that personality disorder should be categorised.  Dr Baird pointed out every adult displayed features of personality which were particular to himself or herself.  They tended to be enduring features and often, although not always, appeared to have originated from upbringing and early formative experiences.  When undesirable features were prominent this could cause problems and it was in this context that the concept of personality disorder had arisen.

Professor Cooke pointed out at the outset that in drawing any conclusion about Thomas Hamilton it was necessary to adopt a cautious approach.  Unlike the ordinary case it was impossible for him to have access to the person concerned with the result that he could not check hypotheses or obtain information about fantasies and unusual thoughts and ideas.   After such a heinous crime the recall of informants and witnesses might not be totally reliable.  There was a natural human tendency to explain events - "effort after meaning" - which might result in significant distortion of the recall of events.  Further it was difficult to assess the relative credibility of evidence given by witnesses.  It was not possible for him to provide a full explanation of the factors which had influenced Thomas Hamilton's behaviour.

While it was not possible for him to make an absolute diagnosis, his conclusion was primarily that Thomas Hamilton was suffering from some form of personality disorder characterised by lack of empathy, and perhaps by a sadistic personality disorder in which he had a desire to have control over others.  It was possible that he dealt with distress by fantasising about control over others.  As other pressures in his life built up, his fantasies about control and revenge over society grew, fostered by planning and practice shots at his gun club.  In his report, Professor Cooke referred to a definition of sadistic personality as involving a disorder in which the subject used violence or cruelty as a way of establishing dominance.  Persons with such a personality humiliated and demeaned others, used harsh discipline, took pleasure in the suffering of others, used terror to get others to do as they wish, and were fascinated by violence, weapons, martial arts, injury or torture.  In the case of Thomas Hamilton, he referred to his behaviour at the boys clubs, as shown on the videotapes, which suggested that he was very strict in his approach and that he liked to dominate those who were in his charge.  The boys appeared to be cowed and in some distress while carrying out the exercises.  A physical education expert had noted that they were pushed far beyond their abilities.  Other witnesses suggested that he was over-strict and militaristic in his approach.  There was also some evidence that he might have been amused by or gained pleasure from the psychological suffering of others.  He referred to evidence which had been given that some years before he telephoned his natural mother saying she would have to go to Inverness by ambulance for medical treatment.   This had caused her great distress.  Professor Cooke said that his neighbour Grace Ogilvie implied that he deliberately frightened her by creeping up behind her when she was hanging out her washing.  [Ed ~ She also referred to Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, which was, sinisterly, not further probed.LINK]  Mr Gillespie indicated that he had fired an empty gun at him.  Mr Deuchars reported that he kept his adoptive father outside their house at night for up to 20 minutes.  There also had been an incident at a camp in which it was alleged that he made a boy stay in the cold water of Loch Lomond for too long.  There was also some limited evidence that he restricted the freedom of people who were close to him.  He controlled the access which his adoptive father had to his own house; and within the house he prevented him from watching a new television set.  There was also strong evidence of a fascination with weapons and perhaps with violence.  He referred to evidence that Thomas Hamilton had talked about his guns "as if they were babies" and that he took great care in selecting and preparing the weapons, bullets and cartridges which he was eventually to use in the shootings.  [Ed ~ Yet both Professor Cooke and Dr Baird ruled out any form of mental illness!  Did they, like Lord Cullen, have some fraternal interest in the whitewash?LINK]  He displayed used shooting targets in a bedroom of his house.   He was allegedly interested in violent films including Alien and Terminator because of the guns involved.  Professor Cooke went on to suggest that Thomas Hamilton displayed many of the characteristics of sexual sadism as it had been described by R P Brittain in 1970 (The sadistic murderer, Medicine, Science and the Law Vol.10 pages 198-207).  He referred in this context to the fact that Thomas Hamilton had few friends and was described as "overly well mannered". He was perceived by several witnesses as being odd or a misfit in society.  As already noted he appeared to lack empathy.  He had no apparent interest in girlfriends or adult sexual contact.

Lord Cullen said he had some reservation about the importance which Professor Cooke attached to some of the factors which he took into account in reaching the conclusion that the evidence indicated that he may have had features of a sadistic personality disorder.  In particular, he said, it seems that he attached undue significance to the way in which Thomas Hamilton behaved towards his natural mother, his adoptive father and the neighbour, Grace Ogilvie.  The telephone call about the ambulance seemed to me to be no more than an unkind prank.  On the other hand his reference to Thomas Hamilton's attitude to weapons seemed to me to be of some significance.  The following extract from the work by Brittain seemed particularly striking: "They (weapons) have an attraction for him far beyond what they have for an ordinary collector and he may "love" them, handling, and in the case of firearms, dismantling them and cleaning them for long periods of time.   He has strong feelings about them, may have special favourites and he can even have "pet" names for these".

Dr Baird considered that Thomas Hamilton showed signs of a paranoid personality and a psychopathic personality.  In the latter respect he differed from the opinion of Professor Cooke.  In his first report he stated that "persons of a paranoid personality are over-sensitive to set-backs and difficulties in their lives, tend to bear grudges and are habitually suspicious and mistrustful.  They can have a tenacious sense of their own personal rights which is out of keeping with the actual situation, can be rather self-important and show a tendency to consider that events around them are specifically directed towards themselves and can believe that others around them are conspiring against them ... a person with a psychopathic personality disorder can show callous unconcern for the feeling of others, an incapacity to maintain enduring relationships despite having no difficulty in establishing them, and a low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for aggression or violence. They are not liable to experience feelings of guilt or to learn from experience and they tend to blame others rather than themselves for anything which may happen".  In support of this view, Dr Baird referred to Thomas Hamilton's persistent beliefs that others were thinking ill of him and not giving him the status and the trust that he deserved; his persistent complaints about the ways that people were talking about him; the absence of any particularly close relationships; and the fact that he seemed to "use" people with whom he was involved.

Lord Cullen, while fully appreciating the basis for a finding that Thomas Hamilton showed signs of a paranoid personality, he was more doubtful about a psychopathic one, in the absence of any history of his tending to resort to violence.  [Ed ~ What about the boys at the camps, Lord Cullen?   And the boy who was sexually abused on the boat?LINK]

Mr James Taylor, Solicitor Advocate, who appeared for Central Scotland Police, submitted that the evidence did not provide sufficient factual support for the opinions expressed by either Professor Cooke or Dr Baird.  In any event, they were not in agreement.  In these circumstances, Lord Cullen said, it was unsafe to conclude that Thomas Hamilton suffered from any personality disorder.  While Lord Cullen had reservations about aspects of the evidence given by each of the witnesses he was entirely satisfied that Thomas Hamilton did suffer from a personality disorder, as distinct from a mental illness.  It may be unrealistic and undesirable to require that every case should fit into a precise category.  All that the two experts were endeavouring to do, without going so far as to provide an exact diagnosis, was to identify those features which suggested the type of disorder from which he suffered.   Lord Cullen said he was satisfied that Dr Baird was well-founded in describing his personality as paranoid; and to that added that his personality was characterised by a desire to control others in which his guns were the focus of his fantasies.   It seemed that Thomas Hamilton lacked any real insight into the fact that his conduct had led to the decline in his fortunes and in his reputation.  In that situation he turned his fantasy into reality in order to achieve control in a one final and terrible manner.  [Ed ~ He would undoubtedly have thought that his final actions would have exposed in the inevitable inquiry that would follow his former "toff" friends in the paedophile ring and the Masons.  That said, with Hamilton dead, who is now organising the paedophile ring for the "toffs"?] 

Both Professor Cooke and Dr Baird expressed the view that it was unlikely that any psychological or psychiatric examination of Thomas Hamilton would have alerted the examiner to his dangerousness.  Professor Cooke emphasised that extreme violence was very rare and was virtually impossible to predict.  A person assessing Thomas Hamilton would probably not have regarded him as a high risk.  Dr Baird pointed out that the various actions and statements of Thomas Hamilton when taken together gave strong suggestions as to what was being planned by him "but it is only after the event that it has been possible for these all to beLINKed.   Each on its own and at the time was trivial and unremarkable".  [Ed ~ So would Lord Cullen like children in his own family to be victims of physical and sexual abuse like that to which the boy on the boat was subjected?]

Both Professor Cooke and Dr Baird expressed the view that Thomas Hamilton demonstrated paedophilia, which is a sexual interest by an adult in children - an opinion which was clearly confirmed by the evidence of the sexual abuse of a boy.   [Ed ~ Is this what you refer to as trivial and unremarkable, Lord Cullen?]  Professor Cooke said that one indication was the evidence provided by the videotapes.  Such material was often used by paedophiles.  They featured, in tedious detail, boys of a particular age and body-type posing semi-naked in stereotype poses.  They contained long, lingering shots of boys' torsos, and many of the boys were in the same posture with hands held above their heads or suspended from wall bars or rings.  The videotapes and the provision of the swimming costumes were suggestive of a fetishistic interest in boys.  Paedophilia was consistent with an absence of direct physical contact since it included those who fell in love with children and yearned for their company but avoided the physical manifestations of sexual attraction.  Dr Baird stated that he had no doubt that Thomas Hamilton was a paedophile.LINK   "The nature of his sexual fantasies can still only be a matter of speculation but his boys club activities were not innocent, had sinister undercurrents and were unhealthy".   He went on to state that there was no indication whatsoever that at any time he had been subjected to anyone who confronted his paedophilia or challenged him about it.  Indeed from what was written of him this would not have been by any means an easy task and he would have tirelessly argued his own position.  Since paedophiles could be very persistent, plausible, persuasive and manipulative it was necessary to begin with confronting them with the belief that they had a paedophile tendency and to keep confronting them with what was known until they came to accept that they had a problem.  [Ed ~ Is the safety of children not of paramount importance!  Everything else pales by comparison.]

Neither Professor Cooke nor Dr Baird considered that there was a necessary link between paedophile interests and violence. In the view of Dr Baird it was a coincidence that someone who was interested in boys was also interested in guns.  [Ed ~ You don't need to be a professor or an expert to arrive at that conclusion.]

- ENDS -

Masonic Lodge - Garrowhill (Lanarkshire Middle Ward) Lodge No. 1413LINK
118 Garrowhill Drive
Glasgow G69 6NRLINK
Copyright © 2016 William Burns. All rights reserved.
Dunblane cover-up
Dunblane Whitewash
Dunblane City Sign
Scotland Map


Dunblane Public Inquiry
Dunblane Massacre
Read the full list in the Dunblane Whitewash catalogue.LINK
Dunblane Angels
St Blane's Church Dunblane
The stained glass window in St Blane's Church, Dunblane, which commemorates the victims of the 1996 massacre.
List of the victims of the Dunblane massacre
Victoria Clydesdale
Mhairi MacBeath
Charlotte Dunn
Melissa Currie
Emma Crozier
Kevin Hassell
Ross Irvine
David Kerr
Gwen Hodson/Mayor - schoolteacher
John Petrie
Hanna Scott
Joanna Ross
Sophie North
Emily Morton
Maegan Turner
Brett McKinnon
Abigail McLennan
We know who killed the above victims, 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!
Why did Lord Cullen try to bury William Burns' letters to him for 100 years?LINK