Hamilton may have had secret income

Aftermath of massacre: Killer's lifestyle at odds with benefit claims
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Thomas Hamilton had been interviewed by his local district council "several times" in the past 18 months over growing concern that he was lying about how he managed to live.

Stirling district council granted Hamilton 100 per cent housing benefit on the pounds 32 per week rent he should have been paying for his council flat in Kent Road, Stirling. However, the council was aware that since November 1993 Hamilton had not registered as being unemployed and was receiving no other state benefits. In successive interviews and in lengthy correspondence, the council quizzed Hamilton on where he got the money to live. More than one letter asked how he managed to "live on fresh air".

According to a senior council source, there had been concern that Hamilton "must have had illegal earnings".

A spokesman for the council said: "We knew what he was telling us just did not add up. He said he was a photographer yet he said he had no income. He showed us a few receipts for his work but they were for only minuscule amounts."

Officials said that as he had no money they had a duty to grant him full housing benefit.

Last year Stirling district learned that Hamilton had received money from photographic equipment he sold "worth thousands". He was contacted and informed that the sale meant he was in receipt of income and that housing benefit would stop. However, he told them he had been merely "converting capital equipment" and he continued to receive his full housing benefit.

Why the council did not investigate his potential illegal earnings will be yet another area that will feature in the inquiry into the Dunblane killings by Lord Cullen.

If Hamilton had no income, how did he finance his two expensive hobbies; photography and guns?

Just after Christmas last year Hamilton spent more than pounds 200 on ammunition for his various weapons. He also paid out gun club fees of more than pounds 50 per year, rifle association levies, range fees, and, according to gun experts, "upwards of pounds 20 a month on ammunition"; all this cannot be reconciled with a man who has no income.

In addition, local photographic processors had refused to handle Hamilton's work and it is understood he was forced to use expensive private developers in Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is also his recently purchased .357 Magnum hand gun. Even second-hand, such a weapon costs several hundred pounds.

It is understood from police sources in Glasgow that a police inquiry into Hamilton's background will deal with the killer's possible role as a provider of paedophile photographic material. One Strathclyde detective, specialising in vice, said Hamilton may have had the potential to blackmail people with photographs he possessed. "Such inquiries will be very difficult, and very uncomfortable for some, if this was true."

Letters, page 14