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THE Monster of Dunblane once ordered a child of nine to "eat" a .22 rifle bullet on one of his summer camps.

And after forcing the terrified youngster to swallow the lethal live round, sick Thomas Hamilton collapsed with laughter.

Last night 18-year-old Colin Conroy, who was at primary school when he went with the fiend on a camping expedition to "Devil's Island" island in Loch Lomond, recalled: "He thought it was a great joke."

His father Kevin, 44, from Falkirk, added: "We told the police everything. But we never heard from them again."

The bullet swallowing incident was the most chilling and macabre of Hamilton's many perverted acts.

The paedophile's history of brutality emerged as five of his former charges broke their stunned silence to talk to the Sunday Mirror.

The boys, now in their late teens, told how the sadist terrorised and beat them when he took them to the place they nicknamed "Devil's Island".


After his beatings fiendish Hamilton would "comfort" weeping youngsters by rubbing oil over their bodies.

Colin Conroy's brother, Martin, who accompanied Colin on the camp where he was forced to swallow the bullet, said: "We were terrified.

"When Hamilton got us alone on that island he told us that our parents had given him permission to beat us.

"We were only eight or nine at the time and completely in his power. We were petrified. It was like being in a prison camp."

Distraught Martin, 16, went on: "He took me inside a tent alone and made me strip. It was creepy.

"He stared at me for a while before giving me some skimpy black shorts to wear. Everyone got the same treatment.

"He made us run bare foot through bracken and nettles. After a few days our bodies were scratched and bruised.

"Then he would rub white spirit on us. He said it would toughen us up. If you cried you were beaten with a wooden spoon. He would cuddle some kids, but to be honest, I preferred a beating. He was that creepy."

Colin told how young-sters who cried too much were given special treatment - in a "punishment tent."

Colin said: "Kids who cried were taken into a tent and beaten. He used a hair-brush on their bare backsides.

"And we had to stand to attention outside listening to the screams. It was a nightmare.

"Other kids who did something wrong were thrown into the freezing loch. They would have to stand to attention for an hour or more. They were soon blue with the cold."

William Aitken, 16, told how Hamilton used to threaten the lads with mutilation.

"He showed us two saplings growing close together," explained William, also of Falkirk.

"He said he would bend them together and tie our arms and legs to them.

"Then he said he would let the trees go and we would be torn in two. We believed him - we were only kids."

William also recalled how Hamilton would tell tales of horror and violence to the youngsters in his charge. "He would sit us round the camp fire and tell us stories of murders in which people's heads were ripped off. They made my hair stand on end.

"Sometimes he would just disappear. The next thing we knew he would jump out behind us bellowing into a megaphone.

"We were terrified. We thought he was mad. All we wanted to do was get home to our parents, but we were trapped. I thought it would never end. I thought I would never get home again."

Brothers David and Colin Smith revealed that Hamilton had once allowed them to play with four handguns - almost certainly the same weapons the monster used in Wednesday's massacre.

"He had them in this hold-all," said David, 17. "I remember a Magnum, a Browning, a Beretta... he was very proud of them."

David added: "It was a nightmare being with him on that island.

"He was a weirdo. Some of the things he made the kids do was terrible.

"As soon as I heard about the shooting I knew that it was him." The boys' terrifying ordeal on the island ended when Martin Conroy made a desperate call to his father.

Martin said: "We'd gone to the mainland and I nipped into a phone booth and rang home. But Hamilton caught me and went berserk.

"His eyes bulged as he bellowed at me saying I would be punished. But it was too late. My dad was on his way."

Taxi-driver Kevin, 44, said: "As soon as I saw what condition the boys were in and heard what they had to say I called the police.

"The kids were evacuated and the camp was closed down. Later I was interviewed by a senior police officer.

"I told him what had been going on and he said he would talk to the Procurator Fiscal.

"But nothing was done. How the police could allow an obvious lunatic to have a gun licence is completely beyond me.

"If they had taken action this terrible tragedy might never have happened."
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rimmer, Alan
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 1996
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