Dunblane killer was obsessed with guns

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The Independent Online
Thomas Hamilton was not interested in competition shooting, ignored the rules of gun clubs and often rapidly fired off entire magazines into single targets from close range, the inquiry into the massacre of 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School was told yesterday.

Hamilton's obsession with the guns he owned also emerged when one witness described how he "stroked" the weapons and "talked about them as if they were babies".

At the beginning of the second week of the inquiry before Lord Cullen, Gordon Crawford, secretary of Stirling Rifle and Pistol Club, said that Hamilton attended the club three or four times a year between 1988 and 1995.

However, at the beginning of this year he began to appear regularly. The inquiry has already heard that over the same period Hamilton had begun stockpiling a large amount of ammunition and had continued to question one boy who attended his boys' clubs on the internal layout of Dunblane Primary School and specific times of school assemblies.

According to Mr Crawford, Hamilton was uninterested in competition. "He wanted to do other things, shooting at 10 metres."

The inquiry heard how at the shooting club, instead of firing 12 rounds over two minutes in one shooting discipline, Hamilton would fire off two pistol magazines (30 rounds) in quick succession. On another occasion he emptied magazines into one target when rules of a competition had specified he should be firing at three targets.

Regardless of Hamilton's unusual behaviour and method of firing, nothing was reported to police, Mr Crawford said.

The reasons for Hamilton's forced resignation from the Scout movement were also heard by Lord Cullen. Brian Fairgrieve, a retired surgeon, 69, who was county commissioner of the Scouts in the early 1970s, described how concerns were raised after several weekend trips to Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands organised by Hamilton. Instead of staying in a youth hostel, as parents had been told, the boys had slept in Hamilton's van.

In 1974, after an interview with Mr Fairgrieve, Hamilton resigned from the Scouts. Mr Fairgrieve told the inquiry: "I formed the impression that he had a persecution complex, that he had delusions of grandeur and I felt his actions were almost paranoiac." He added: "I was doubtful about Hamilton's moral intentions towards boys."

Hamilton had later tried to gain access to another Scout group, but was unsuccessful. Over the next four or five years he had complained about the dismissal, claiming he had been blacklisted for homosexual acts and for "interfering" with young boys. The Scout movement had never made such allegations, Mr Fairgrieve said.