Killer was facing prosecution over council tax debt

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The Independent Online
Thomas Hamilton was severely in debt and on the verge of facing prosecution over unpaid council tax when he shot himself. On the second day of the Dunblane inquiry it was revealed that the boys' clubs that Hamilton had run since 1988 and which had attracted much public suspicion had not - as his relatives believed - made him money, but in fact cost him nearly pounds 16,000.

Insight into Hamilton's childhood and the life his family believed he led, were given in evidence to the inquiry yesterday by his mother, Agnes Watt, 64, and from his grandfather, James Hamilton, now aged 87.

For most of his childhood Hamilton had believed his mother was his sister. In 1950, Mrs Watt had married Thomas Hamilton. In 1952, the couple had a son, Thomas, but separated shortly after his birth. Mrs Watt went back to live with her parents. She went out to work and her parents adopted their grandson. When he was about 16, Hamilton was told Mrs Watt was his mother. But he continued for some time to regard and treat her as his sister.

Mrs Watt struggled to give much details of the life her son had led. She said she they were close and met regularly. He telephoned her every night. But she knew little about her son's friends, what was his source of income was, or much about the boys' clubs he had run.

Hamilton's grandfather, with whom he lived until 1992, also appeared to know little of his interests.

On the day before Hamilton carried out the mass murder at Dunblane Primary School, he had gone round to his mother's house for a bath and "a blether". When he did not call his mother that night, Mrs Watt had phoned his home the following morning. By that time he had murdered 17 people and shot himself. A police officer answered the telephone at Hamilton's Stirling home.

The inquiry also heard details of Hamilton's finances. Through a series of overdrawn bank accounts, heavy use of a Barclaycard, an account at Debenhams, and loans given through finance companies for business supposedly based on the buying and selling of cameras, Hamilton owed, according police inquiries, just over pounds 11,000.

Police estimate the running of the boys' clubs since 1988 had cost him pounds 15,907. He had only one bank account in the black - with 3p lodged.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Hughes told the inquiry that Hamilton had no measurable income, was in receipt of housing benefit, but not unemployment benefit, and that a sheriff's warrant for unpaid council tax had also recently been issued to him.