Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Dunblane Massacre

Suspicious Activities

Thomas Hamilton, gym assistant
Thomas Hamilton, gym assistant

Hamilton started up a number of boys clubs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many of which targeted children between the ages of seven and 11. He often rented out or borrowed space at local schools or gymnasiums where he organized a wide range of club activities, such as football, gymnastics, swimming and target practice. Hamilton's clubs were often popular and attracted many members. However, over time membership rapidly declined because of his increasingly strange behavior.

Many of the boys who attended the clubs complained that Hamilton often drilled them like a sadistic boot camp instructor. He would make the boys do things that made them feel uncomfortable and would pay them off to keep them quiet. The complaints were so numerous that local police investigated Hamilton's clubs.

Jonathan Russell wrote in his March 1996 article for The Mirror that Hamilton enjoyed disciplining his boys and "expected them to obey his every command." Russell further stated that one of the boy's mothers complained that they were "forced to rub suntan oil all over [Hamilton's] naked body as he writhed and groaned in ecstasy." As the complaints streamed in, it became increasingly clear that Hamilton was a pervert.

Hamilton was proud of "his boys." He was so full of pride that his house was adorned with pictures of them in scant bathing suits, which he demanded they wear. However, when the police investigated his residence following the many complaints they were unable to find any clear evidence that proved he was doing anything unlawful. Russell quoted a former police constable who said that the pictures were not considered pornographic because, "the boys had their pants on."

Just as disconcerting was the fact that Hamilton not only engaged in perverted activities with the boys but he also taught many of them to use rifles and handguns during summer camping trips. Paul Gilfeather's March 1996 article in the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday suggested that youngsters were sometimes dropped off on an island, supplied with guns and encouraged to shoot at any animal they saw. Gilfeather also reported that evening activities during the trips consisted of the boys being whipped with a steel rod before having lotion rubbed into their bodies. One of the boys quoted in the article claimed that, "that's the only time [Hamilton] touched us but he would rub the lotion on us really hard." He then paid the boys to keep quiet.

Hamilton's behavior facilitated rumors that he was a depraved pedophile. A Scotsman News article by Dan McDougall indicated that Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes, the former head of Central Scotland Police's child protection unit, wrote a damning report in which he recommended that Hamilton's gun license be revoked because of his "unsavory character" and "unstable personality." However, no action was taken because there was no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing. Thus, he was free to continue running his boys clubs.

When the rumors got too bad, an enraged Hamilton would send letters of complaint to authority figures within the community claiming that he was not perverted and that he was being victimized. He also sent letters, which were described by many as threatening, to teachers and the families of the boys who spoke ill of the clubs and discouraged attendance. At one point, he even sent letters of protest to the Queen complaining of his "unfair" treatment.

Hamilton believed there was a conspiracy to bring him down. He blamed not only the teachers and parents, but also scout officials and the police for circulating the negative rumors about him. Hamilton's infuriation eventually led to the horrific events of March 13, 1996. It was then that he exacted his revenge on the community that strived to protect their children.


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