Ron Taylor
Former Dunblane primary school headmaster Ron Taylor addresses the press following the massacre of 16 childrenReuters

The headmaster of Dunblane Primary School has opened up for the first time about the massacre that left 16 children and a teacher dead at the hands of sacked scoutmaster and gun maniac Thomas Hamilton, who randomly opened fire in one of the worst massacres on British soil. Ron Taylor has admitted he is still plagued by guilt nearly 20 years after the event that devastated a small Scottish town.

The bloodbath was one of the deadliest firearms incidents in UK history, when the gunman set off on his killing spree on 13 March 1996, before eventually turning one of his guns on himself and leaving the world stunned at the senseless atrocity. The ferociousness of the attack on innocent schoolchildren and their protector led to a public debate calling for extensive gun control laws, including public petitions calling for a ban on private ownership of handguns and an official enquiry, the Cullen Report.

In response to this debate, two new firearms acts were passed that effectively made private ownership of handguns illegal in Great Britain.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror for the first time about the shootings, Ron Taylor said: "It was unimaginably horrible to see children dying in front of you. I felt enormous guilt – more than a survivor's guilt. It was my school, I felt violated."

He told the paper that he had the unimaginable task of identifying the bodies of the children and that of his colleague Gwen Mayor. He said that the body of the perpetrator Hamilton was "still twitching" and that there was "an incredible silence" and that it was "unimaginably horrible" to see children dying in front of his eyes.

Dunblane children
The class that was targeted by deranged gun maniac Thomas Hamilton 20 years ago in DunblaneReuters

He explained that the air was thick with smoke. And there was a group of children standing. "The first thing we were able to do was to get them out of there. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," Taylor said.

Hamilton was armed with four handguns and 700 rounds of ammunition and took just three minutes to carry out the massacre of the children and their teacher as they gathered for a PE lesson. Taylor never returned to the teaching profession following the tragedy.