Despite amending Britain’s Firearms regulations in the aftermath of the Hungerford Massacre, the fact that most of the changes in the law were thought to have related to the ownership of semi automatic weapons, rather than guns in general; and also took little account of the people who regularly held multiple firearms, almost inevitably meant that the potential for such bloody outrages remained in place. Even though the prohibition of weapons, such as those used by Michael Ryan in the slaughter of his neighbours was thought to have significantly reduced the risk of such an outrage being perpetrated ever again in mainland Britain, the fact that a large number of his victims had actually been murdered with a Beretta Pistol, which remained a legally obtainable firearm, was either overlooked, or simply dismissed by the authorities, something that they would have cause to regret some nine years later in the small Scottish town of Dunblane, where an equally tragic event would unfold on a chilly Wednesday morning in March 1996.
Reportedly born on the 10th May 1952 in Glasgow, Thomas Watt Hamilton was the only son of Thomas and Agnes Watt (nee Hamilton), a young married couple who were already separated by the time the young Thomas was born and whose divorce was finalised in 1955. Left alone with her three-year-old son, Agnes was said to have struggled to manage alone and as a result was thought to have moved back to her parents home, no doubt in the hope that this would allow her to provide a more stable environment for both her and young Thomas. However, within a short time of having returned to her parent’s home Agnes was said to have agreed to her mother and father adopting the boy as their own, who then became known as Thomas Watt Hamilton and for all intents and purposes, his mother became his big sister. Sometime around 1964, Hamilton and his “parents” were said to have moved to the family’s new home at Kent Road in Stirling, where he would spend the remainder of his life.
Seemingly an unremarkable youngster, who achieved average academic grades in school, during his formative years Hamilton was reported to have been an active member of the local boys clubs, including the Boys Brigade and was also thought to have had a general interest in guns, both of which he would obsessively pursue right through to adulthood. After leaving school in 1968, he began an apprenticeship as a draughtsman in the County Architects office, although four years later, in 1972, it was reported that he had set up his own business running a DIY store called “Woodcraft” in the city, which was said to have lasted for the next decade or more.
In his personal life, Hamilton remained at home with his parents and although not unusual in itself, was said to have largely avoided female company, only having one girlfriend that anyone ever knew about and who he very quickly parted from, when she tried to develop their relationship. During his late teenage years and into his early twenties, he was thought to have dedicated much of his free time to the Scouts Association, becoming assistant Scout leader to the 4th/6th Stirling Scout troops in 1973, when he was twenty-one years old. Having had his background checked by the authorities, there were thought to have been few if any concerns about his involvement with the young boys in his care, although later events would ultimately prove that he was not as responsible as the organisation might have initially hoped.
Leading a group of young scouts on a trip to Loch Lomond, to earn a proficiency badge, Hamilton had intended to take the boys out onto open water, despite not having the correct safety equipment to undertake the trip. Although other organisers prevented the event from continuing, Hamilton’s apparent recklessness was said to have become a cause for concern for some within the Scout movement, but this did not prevent him being appointed as Deputy Leader of a new Scout troop that was being raised in Bannockburn.
However, despite his poor judgement being generally overlooked by the authorities in that particular instance, Hamilton was said to have failed to learn from the experience and in two subsequent Scout trips to Aviemore, he once again showed the same recklessness and poor planning as before. Failing to make arrangements for suitable accommodations for the boys in his charge, Hamilton and his Scouts were forced to huddle together in his van overnight, even though many of them were soaking wet and in danger of suffering from hypothermia. Claiming that on one occasion that the Scout’s rooms had been double booked, subsequent investigations by the Scouting authorities proved this to be untrue and they were left with little option but to ask Hamilton to resign from the movement, which he initially refused to do. This decision by the Scout’s Association was said to have marked the start of Thomas Hamilton’s ongoing belief that he was being deliberately targeted and briefed against by both the Scout Association and the Scottish Police, a paranoid delusion that would continue to haunt him for the rest of his life and which undoubtedly played a large part in the tragic events of March 13th 1996.
Despite waging a war of words with the Scouts leadership, who by this time had come to recognise how irresponsible, immature and paranoid their former Scout leader was, eventually Hamilton, after demanding an inquiry into his treatment, simply submitted his formal resignation to the movement and accused them of being the party at fault, a claim that he would continue to make whenever the matter was raised with him. Although during his time with the Scouts there was never any evidence of him directly abusing the boys in his care, many of the adults who actually met him were thought to have been suspicious of his intentions and variously described him as being effeminate, paranoid, delusional and even immature. It was only in later years and during the Public Inquiry into the events of March 13th 1996 that some former scouts would subsequently claim to have been abused by Thomas Hamilton, despite having said nothing at the time. Regardless of these later claims however and based purely on the events that had led to his resignation from the Scout Association in 1974, Hamilton’s name was subsequently included on the organisations black-list, ensuring that he would never again be employed by the association, which simply served to confirm in the former Scout leader’s own mind that he was being unfairly persecuted by the organisation.
With his Scout duties no longer taking up his time, Hamilton was then thought to have concentrated on his DIY business, as well as spending some time participating in one of his other interests, shooting. Granted his first Firearms Licence in February 1977, this first certificate was reported to have entitled him to own a .22 target pistol, along with a thousand rounds of ammunition for the weapon, which he subsequently purchased in March 1977, when he bought a .22 Vostock semi automatic. However, the following month he was said to have sold the Vostock and replaced it with a .22 Smith and Wesson revolver. In August 1977 he was reported to have had his firearms certificate amended to cover the new weapon and to allow him to purchase a .22 rifle, as well as a second .22 pistol, which he did in the next month, buying a .22 Anschutz rifle and a .22 Browning pistol.
Just over two years later, in December 1979 Hamilton requested that his firearms certificate be amended yet again, when he added a .357 revolver and a .270 rifle to his collection, as well as fifty rounds of ammunition for both of these new weapons. At the time of his various firearms applications, Hamilton was known to have been a registered member of the Dunblane Rifle Club and had also applied for membership of the Clyde Valley Pistol Club, so gave few concerns to the licensing authorities who were charged with scrutinising his various applications. In fact, over the period of the next sixteen years, from 1980 through to 1996, Thomas Hamilton was recorded to have bought, sold and surrendered a number of weapons in accordance with his licence, including the 9 mm Browning and a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver, which would form part of the arsenal that he would take with him to Dunblane Primary School on the 13th March 1996.
However, it would be wrong to believe that Hamilton was a dedicated gun enthusiast who regularly attended the two clubs where he was a registered member, neither was he thought to be a serious competitor when he did attend. It was subsequently revealed by members of these organisations that Thomas Hamilton was thought to have had the potential to be a good shooter, but often chose speed over accuracy and on at least one occasion had upset a number of members by deliberately refusing to follow range etiquette by ignoring verbal instructions given to him during a club competition. Although he was not considered proficient enough to represent the clubs in national competitions, he was said to have participated in regional events and it was following one such meeting that a club member observed potentially worrying signs from Hamilton, which might have provided an insight into his attitude to guns. Sitting in the back seat of another member’s car on the way back from a club competition, Hamilton was observed stroking one of his guns and was heard referring to his firearms as his babies, a worrying development that was not followed up either by the club, or indeed by the local licensing authorities.
Although his guns were thought to have been important to him, he was said to have been a fitful enthusiast, often going for months without involving himself in the gun scene and then just as suddenly turning up to shoot on a regular basis. However, with his career as a Scout leader brought to a sudden halt in around May 1974, Hamilton was reported to have concentrated on developing his DIY store, which for the first few years was thought to have done rather well, providing him with a decent living with which to pursue his shooting interest. Unfortunately, as is often the case with such small local businesses, the arrival of multi-nationals in the area and the diversification of other stores eventually began to affect his turnover, although for Hamilton, the falling sales figures were thought to have been the result of much more sinister events. Rather than simply accepting that everyday commercial practices were causing his business to fail, Hamilton began to convince himself that he was the innocent victim of a malicious whispering campaign, which was being orchestrated by members of the Scout Association, the Police and some parts of the local community, who were not only out to ruin his business, but also his personal reputation.
In reality though, there was no orchestrated campaign being waged against him, only that which existed in his own insecure and deluded mind, whilst the real reasons for his failing business was the wider economic climate and his own increasingly odd and unfriendly disposition. Although there seems little doubt that his personal reputation had suffered as a result of his time with the Scout movement; when he may or may not have had some sort of inappropriate contact with the young boys who were in his charge, but either way, his reputation was to suffer a great deal more, once he finally gave up his failing DIY business and then made the fateful decision to set up his own series of Boys Club’s in the area. Clearly indifferent to the potential dangers that such an enterprise might cause to his personal reputation, which had already been damaged by his poor risk assessment and innate recklessness, it was perhaps as a result of his own vanity and the instinctive need to be around young boys that he chose to deliberately disregard such obvious and blatant concerns.
Beginning in around 1981, up until his death in March 1996 Hamilton was thought to set up, run; and closed anything up to fifteen boys clubs, most of which were aimed at young boys between the ages of seven and eleven years of age; and where there were few if any other adults involved. The normal method for establishing these clubs would be for Hamilton to distribute leaflets around a particular area advertising the new venture, where local boys would be able to take part in football, gymnastics and other activities, all for a nominal fee, which might cover any basic expenses. Typically held in school gymnasiums or community centres, although the occasional parent or volunteer might help him with the clubs, often their participation was not thought to have been welcomed or appreciated by the surly organiser, who most found to be objectionable. Unfortunately, even though most of the clubs were thought to have started off well enough, with relatively high numbers of boys attending for the first few meetings, members would soon fall away as Hamilton’s aggressive and domineering attitude began to discourage them from participating.
Although there was never any suggestion of the boys being hurt or abused, Hamilton’s over familiarity and his habit of having the boys exercise in little more than shorts was said to have caused some consternation amongst parents, who were quick to mention their concerns to others, or more often, to simply prohibit their children from attending the clubs in the first place. From the Police and local authorities perspective, even though they were said to have been made aware of the parent’s concerns, the fact that there were no formal complaints being made; and that the boys were wearing shorts during exercise meant that they had no real grounds for questioning Hamilton’s methods, or indeed to stop the club’s being run in that particular manner. During the Public Inquiry held to investigate the Dunblane Massacre in 1996, it was subsequently reported that Harrison had been in the habit of massaging the boys, both before and after their exercise classes, which many assumed had been done for his own perverted gratification, although the practice was not thought to have been so abnormal for a formal complaint to be made to the authorities, or for the club’s to have been closed down. In order to deal with any concerns or complaints that were brought to him directly, Harrison was said to have regularly fabricated excuses, or invented fictional committees, in order that a complainant would simply go away; and when that didn’t work he would simply become aggressive, in an attempt to make the person leave, which in most cases was said to have worked.
Eventually however, his questionable methods, uncertain temperament and his complete inability to fully engage with members of the local communities, such as Stirling and Dunblane, inevitably began to work against him, as some club memberships were said to have declined to such a level, as to make them unviable; and leaving him with little option but to close them down. By the beginning of 1996, his reputation in towns like Dunblane was said to have been in tatters and even though there was absolutely no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing, it was thought to be clear to him that his boys club’s were likely to meet a similar fate as his DIY business. Speaking to those few people who were close to him, including his mother, Hamilton recognised that many people regarded him as some sort of pervert, even though he still believed that he had done nothing wrong. He also became increasingly convinced that there was a conspiracy against him personally, which was being orchestrated by the Scout Association, the Scottish Police and within the local communities, including Dunblane.
Such was his mental state at that time, he was even said to have written to Queen Elizabeth II, complaining about his treatment and asking that she intervene on his behalf. However, despite such extraordinarily unusual actions on his part, in the days just before his death, Thomas Hamilton was reported to have been his normal self, both on the telephone to his mother on the evening of the 12th March 1996 and to a neighbour the following morning, on the 13th March 1996, just an hour or so before he would commit one of the most outrageous crimes that modern Britain has ever witnessed.
There seems little doubt that Thomas Hamilton deliberately planned the attack on Dunblane Primary School, which he carried out so maliciously on the Wednesday morning of the 13th March 1996, although for just how long still remains uncertain and will probably never be known, as the perpetrator himself died along with his victims on that chilly, icy morning. Although some witnesses would later claim that Hamilton had used members of the boys club at Dunblane to provide him with information regarding school assembly times, the position of doorways and to keep him appraised of any changes in routine, this was deemed to be unlikely by most commentators at the time. Instead, it was far more likely that Hamilton had managed to gather such information on his own, having had extensive access to the school building during the time he was running his boy’s club there and formulated his plans accordingly.
The fact that Thomas Hamilton arrived at the school equipped with pliers, four handguns and sufficient ammunition to kill many dozens of victims; and also planned his arrival there to coincide with the main morning assembly testifies to the fact that he had undoubtedly given a great deal of thought to carrying out his assault on the school population, rather than it being some sort of opportunistic crime. As it turned out however, it was only due to an unforeseen event, traffic delays caused by ice on the roads that prevented Thomas Harrison from arriving at Dunblane Primary School while the main morning assembly was being held, the few minute delay inadvertently saving the lives of many hundreds of children who might well have shared a similar fate to those who were cold-bloodedly murdered on that bleak Wednesday morning.
Seen outside his home in Kent Road, Stirling at around 8.15 am on the morning of the 13th March 1996, Hamilton was said to have been scraping the ice off his van, when he was engaged in conversation by a passing neighbour, who later testified that Hamilton had appeared to be his usual quiet self. A short time later, he was thought to have got into his vehicle and began driving towards the town of Dunblane, although the journey on that particular Wednesday morning was said to have taken a little longer than usual, due to the cold and icy conditions on the local roads. Despite the unexpected delay however, by around 9.25 am Hamilton was thought to be parking his vehicle in the rear car park of Dunblane Primary School, so that it was out of sight from passing cars and giving him access to the buildings rear doorways. Stepping out of his van, Hamilton was then reported to have taken a pair of pliers and deliberately cut the telephone lines at the base of a nearby telephone pole, no doubt in the hope of preventing emergency calls being made from the school once he was inside. Unfortunately for him, as it later transpired the lines that he cut that morning, actually served some nearby homes, not the school; and so the school buildings remained connected to the outside world, despite his best efforts to isolate the staff and pupils within.
At the same time that Thomas Hamilton was cutting the telephone lines in the car park, the morning assembly in Dunblane Primary School was just coming to an end in the main hall and the students were preparing to go to their various classes. Fortunately perhaps, as the largest school in the area, with over six hundred pupils, the main assembly hall could not actually accommodate the entire student body, so the school had been forced to introduce a rotating assembly, which meant that only a portion of the student body was in the hall at any one time; and on that Wednesday morning it just happened to be around 250 pupils from the younger primary classes. Amongst them were the twenty-five children from class 1/13, aged five and six years old, who were said to have been dressed in their gym outfits, ready for their sports lesson, which was to immediately follow the morning assembly and that was held in the school’s gymnasium, adjoining the main hall. As the morning assembly came to an end, the hundreds of school children filed out of the hall to begin their first lessons of the day, class 1/13 moving out into the corridor and making their way through the doors and into the large gymnasium, accompanied by their teacher Mrs Gwen Major.
Directing them to the centre of the sports hall, where two other members of staff were already waiting for them, the children milled around waiting for the lesson to begin, as Gwen Major began to discuss the lesson with her colleagues Eileen Harrild and Mary Blake. Mrs Harrild was the school’s PE teacher and was to lead the morning lesson, whilst Mary Blake was a school assistant who had been asked to attend the lesson, in order that Gwen Major could leave to attend another meeting. However, as the three women tried to organise the children who were waiting to begin their lesson, their attention was suddenly distracted by two loud metallic bangs that came from outside the main gymnasium door and as they turned in that direction they suddenly found themselves confronted by a man dressed in dark clothing and pointing a pistol in their direction.
Having made his way into Dunblane Primary via a rear doorway at the northwest corner of the school, Thomas Hamilton, dressed in dark clothing and wearing ear defenders, was said to have arrived in the building unseen and almost immediately turned his attention to the main hall, where he hoped to find a large number of children and their teachers. Unfortunately for him, the hall was thought to have been empty and perhaps in frustration he was reported to have fired a single round into the large wooden stage before turning his attention elsewhere. His second shot was thought to have been aimed at the girl’s toilets which were located next to the school’s gymnasium, in both cases his shell casings dropping to the floor of the main corridor, where minutes later they would be spotted by the deputy headmistress, Mrs Agnes Awlson, who had come to investigate the strange metallic noises coming from the area of the gymnasium, before running to the headmaster’s office to raise the alarm.
Almost as soon as he entered the sport’s hall, Thomas Hamilton had began shooting wildly around the gymnasium, hitting Gwen Major six times, one round hitting her in the right eye, which then penetrated her brain, killing her instantly. At the same time, Eileen Harrild was said to have been hit in both forearms, her right hand and chest, but still managed to scramble away from the gunman taking a few of her young pupils with her. Mary Blake was thought to have fared no better, shot twice in the legs and once in the head, it later emerged that she still had the presence of mind to try and shepherd a handful of her hysterical pupils to an open storage area of the hall where they were hidden from the gunman’s view. As Eileen Harrild and Mary Blake huddled in this blind spot, they tried desperately to reassure the small number of hysterical schoolchildren that surrounded them, putting their finger to their lips in an attempt to try and keep the youngsters quiet, so that their crying would not attract the stranger’s attention; and eventually the children got the message and managed to stifle their cries.
Seemingly unaware of, or indifferent to the small group hidden away in the storage area of the gymnasium, Hamilton then moved forward, towards the large number of children who were lying in the centre of the hall, having previously been knocked over in the initial scramble, or who had been hit by one of the numerous shots that the gunman had fired since entering the building. Even though he was thought to have killed at least one child and injured several more with his initial burst of gunfire, shockingly, he was then said to have begun targeting them as they lay on the floor, moving from one child to the next; pointing his weapon at them and firing at point blank range, so that there was little doubt of inflicting maximum damage on the tiny, frail bodies. As he carried out his murderous acts, a pupil who had been sent on an errand by his teacher happened to be passing the gymnasium was said to have heard the series of loud metallic bangs and the sounds of children screaming; and pushed open the door to see what was going on. Witnessing the sight of a gunman standing over the bodies of the children, whilst he fired down at them, the youngster was said to have recoiled in horror, but not before Thomas Hamilton had seen the door open and turned to fire in the boy’s direction, shattering the glass in the gymnasium door and sending the terrified pupil running for help.
Perhaps recognising that his time was running out and determined to inflict as much misery as possible, Hamilton then began moving towards the far end of the sport’s hall, unleashing several more shots around the building, some of them in the direction of the storage area, where Eileen Harrild, Mary Blake and their few surviving pupils were still huddling together, in the hope of avoiding the gunman’s gaze. As he reached the far end of the gymnasium Hamilton was then said to have fired a number of shots in the direction of the outside playground, possibly in the belief that he had seen someone passing the windows, a number of which were shattered as they were hit by the flying rounds. Turning his attention to the gymnasium’s fire escape, Hamilton was reported to have pushed open the door and stepped out into the fresh air, turning his weapons in the direction of the school library; and firing an estimated four rounds towards the building, one of which was said to have struck Mrs Grace Tweddle, who happened to be inside. At the same time he was standing outside the sport’s hall, trying to find more victims, Mrs Awlson, had made her way from the playground, to investigate the loud metallic noises she had heard coming from the gymnasium and had noticed the empty cartridges lying in the corridor, outside the sports hall’s main doorway. Immediately realising that something was wrong and that there was a gunman in the building, she ran to the headmaster’s office to summon help. For headmaster, Ronald Taylor, who was talking to someone on the telephone, the sudden and unexpected arrival of Agnes Awlson in his office and the look on her face told him that something was seriously wrong. As he ended his call, he suddenly realised what had been the cause of the series of loud metallic bangs that he had also heard, but had been too busy to investigate and he immediately picked up the phone and called the emergency services, his call being recorded by the authorities at 9.41 am, some eleven minutes after the morning assembly had finished.
However, by the time Ronald Taylor made that first emergency call, the killing was over and the gunman Thomas Hamilton was dead, his quivering body lying close to those of his many young victims on the blood soaked floor of the school’s gymnasium. Having earlier stepped through the fire exit and fired four rounds towards the school library, fortunately his actions had been witnessed by Catherine Gordon who was teaching her class in one of the outside classrooms and recognising the danger had instructed all of her pupils to get on the floor. Almost as the last student got under their desk, a series of nine or ten shots were reported to have burst through the walls of the wooden classroom, hitting the classroom’s books and furniture, but thankfully none of the pupils who remained crouching on the floor for several minutes, until the danger had passed. Stepping back into the gymnasium, Hamilton was reported to have fired his last volley of shots around the hall and then simply dropped his pistol, before replacing it with one of his Smith and Wesson revolvers. Placing the muzzle of the weapon in his mouth, he was seen to lower the butt of the gun, so that the barrel was pointing skyward, before pulling the trigger and killing himself almost instantly.
Within seconds of Hamilton’s suicidal end, the doors of the school gymnasium burst open, as the first members of the school’s teaching staff entered the hall, being greeted by a scene of complete and utter carnage, which many of them found impossible to deal with, let alone comprehend. Almost immediately, Ronald Taylor and a small number of his colleagues made sure to remove the surviving and uninjured children from the scene, so that they might be saved from any further horror, whilst at the same time trying to comfort those youngsters who were wounded or dying, a task that was said to be beyond some individuals who had to leave the hall on several occasions simply to try and regain their own composure. Within minutes of the first 999 call, the first emergency units had arrived at the school, although it quickly became clear that this was a major incident and additional personnel were despatched, whilst at the same time local hospitals were put on standby and routine operations cancelled, in order that operating theatres might be made available, if and when they were needed. Unfortunately, in many cases such was the scale of the injuries inflicted on the young children’s bodies by Thomas Hamilton’s weapons that very few of the youngsters from class 1/13 ever made it to hospital, but instead died at the scene, making the atrocity even worse for those adults who were called upon to deal with the scene. According to some sources, the fact that Hamilton had chosen to use full metal jacket and hollow point bullets in his guns proved beyond doubt that he had planned to inflict as much damage as possible on his victims bodies, indicating perhaps the depths that his mind had plunged to, by the time he decided to carry out his attack on the school.
Of course the greatest suffering, apart from the children themselves, was borne by the parents of those youngsters who had been lost in the tragedy, many of whom had to wait for several hours to find out the fate of their loved ones. In order to facilitate the work of the emergency services and to safeguard the integrity of the crime scene, the entire school was locked down by the authorities, with children being released into their parent’s care throughout the course of the day and as arrangements were made for the students to be collected by their families. Unfortunately, due to a number of administrative oversights and the fact that the children of class 1/13 had been wearing their gym clothes at the time of their deaths, it took a considerable amount of time for their identities to be officially confirmed, leading to unavoidable delays for their increasingly distraught parents. As each of the affected families arrived at the school, they were reportedly taken to a classroom and then one by one were given the terrible news that their son or daughter had been killed or injured during the attack, a grim but necessary task that deeply affected many of those who were charged with breaking the news to the often hysterical and disbelieving parents.
Although the timeline of the attack is a matter of some debate, with some sources stating that it took little more than three minutes for Thomas Hamilton to carry out his assault, whilst other suggest around five minutes, either way, there is little dispute that in that three to five minute period, he unlawfully killed or fatally wounded a total of eighteen people, before taking his own life. In that same period, his weapons were reported to have been fired over 100 times, inflicted a total of 58 wounds on the children and their teachers, 26 of which would have been fatal in their own right. In addition to the 16 dead children, one of whom later died in hospital; and their teacher, Gwen Major, Hamilton’s bloody rampage that Wednesday morning was said to have injured a further thirteen people, including Mrs Harrild, Blake and Tweddle, as well as two 11-year-olds, who happened to be in another part of the gymnasium that morning and eight other members of class 1/13. Out of a total of 25 children in class 1/13 who attended school that morning, only two were thought to have escaped any sort of physical injury, although would undoubtedly have suffered psychological damage as a result of the trauma they had gone through.
Unlike Michael Ryan, who had slaughtered sixteen people some nine years earlier, in what was widely regarded as a completely unplanned rampage through the town of Hungerford; Thomas Hamilton’s murder spree appears to have been a pre-planned assault, which was only lessened by the intervention of poor weather conditions and his lack of knowledge regarding telephone lines. Unlike 27-year-old Ryan who was known to have simply wandered around his hometown, killing and wounding people at random, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton seems to have chosen his target carefully and cold-bloodedly, with the obvious intention of inflicting as much damage on a group of schoolchildren as he possibly could. Also, unlike Michael Ryan, who was said to have taken some time to consider his own fate once he had completed his killing spree, something that he discussed with the police negotiator, Thomas Hamilton’s own actions, in quickly taking his own life might suggest that this too was something that he had considered and indeed planned for. As no documentary evidence was forthcoming regarding his state of mind on that day, or his intentions, one can only speculate what drove the former shopkeeper and Scout leader to commit what inevitably became one of the very worst outrages in British criminal history. However, it does seem possible that Hamilton’s mental state had deteriorated to such a point that he was determined to exact his own revenge against those who he believed had essentially ruined his life, by robbing them of their most cherished possessions, their children.