Hamilton licence concerned police

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The Independent Online
Five years before Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 school children and their teacher in Dunblane, police in Central Scotland had considered revoking his gun licence.

In the first evidence at the inquiry to suggest police action over the gun licence might have prevented the horror of 13 March, a detective spoke of his "concern" in 1991 about Hamilton and recommended that Hamilton's licence be revoked. The detective's memo was returned from the Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police, stamped "no action".

Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes told the inquiry at Stirling of the warning after police had investigated allegations surrounding a summer camp for boys run by Hamilton at Loch Lomond in 1991.

DS Hughes said police found that Hamilton owned two pistols and was authorised to hold two more guns. The memo stated: "I request that serious concern is given to withdrawing this man's firearms certificate as a precautionary measure, as it is my opinion he is ... not to be trusted."

Two of Mr Hughes' superiors had placed written comments on the sergeant's report, giving their views. Detective Chief Inspector Joseph Holden had written: "Sir, a difficult situation. I would agree with DS Hughes' appraisal of Hamilton. Do we have any latitude for progress in respect of revocation of his certificate?"

Detective Superintendent John Miller wrote that while he appreciated the sergeant's concern, he could not recommend that course of action "for obvious reasons" .

Primarily, the reasons were that Hamilton had not been convicted of a crime, and authorities were unlikely to prosecute Hamilton over the summer camp allegations.

The inquiry, which is likely to last between six to eight weeks, is expected to hear further evidence about Hamilton's gun licence background and the rules and procedures which allowed him to keep firearms.

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