HeadLine: WE GOTCHA!
The People, 16/07/2000, p18&19
by SHAUN MILNE in Montpellier, France
A SAVAGE killer on the run from prison for 17 years has been tracked to
a secret Mediterranean hideaway by the Sunday People.
Violent Robert Hamilton, 47, is living in paradise on the French
Riviera when he should be locked up for murdering a stranger in cold
The one-eyed thug escaped from a British prison while serving life for
battering his helpless victim to death with a wood stool.
For 17 years the authorities have not had a clue where the hate-filled
psychopath has been hiding – but today the Sunday People can point the
Hamilton is swanning around the sun-kissed bars of Montpellier in
southern France – and has no remorse about his evil crime.
He boasted: “As far as I’m concerned the bloke got what was coming.”
But the cocky hardman may soon be getting what is coming to HIM –
extradition and a prison cell – after a three-month painstaking Sunday
People investigation tracked him down.
We have discovered how Hamilton…
ESCAPED from jail only with the help of outsiders who he still
refuses to name.
FLED to Dublin, Amsterdam and the South American Amazon before
winding up in France.
ENJOYED drug and sex-crazed orgies with Brazil beauties.
RAN a bar just yards from a French Foreign Legion base – another
haven for criminals.
WOOED a string of impressionable young women across Europe and
fathered a little girl.
The sun-tanned killer told us: “Montpellier is a beautiful place to
live. No-one will tell the police I’m here and if they do I’ll find
them and do them in. There’s no way I’m going back to jail.”
But he’s in for a shock – as a result of our probe, British police have
requested a warrant for his extradition.
After a tip-off that Hamilton was in Montpellier, we spent months
gently luring him into the open.
Extremely paranoid, he would only talk to us by telephone, refusing to
give us his number or an address. He aborted several meetings at the
last minute, but we finally came face-to-face with the fugitive after
playing on his vanity by claiming we could help publish a book he has
written about his vile crime.
The murder that Hamilton committed as a 19-year-old was horrific even
by his own violent standards. He left school at 15 with no
qualifications other than bullying and quickly developed a reputation
as a thug in the pubs of his home-city Sheffield.
One night in 1972 a homosexual tried to pick him up. Instead of
rejecting the advances, twisted Hamilton went back to the older man’s
flat “for a drink”.
Hamilton, eldest son of a Second World War Polish refugee, bragged to
our investigators: “I just turned on him and beat him senseless.
“I reckoned he was getting what he deserved. It wasn’t because he was
gay, I was just mental and enjoyed doing it.
“When he was down I picked up a stool and hit him over the head with
it. Then I drank the whisky he had just poured me.
“He didn’t move but he wasn’t dead at that point. I took his wallet and
tied him up with phone cable so he couldn’t raise the alarm.”
The man died of the savage attack and Hamilton was convicted at Leeds
Crown Court of murder and robbery.
He was banged up in some of Britain’s hardest jails, including
Wakefield where he was stabbed and half-blinded by another con.
Then he was switched to Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire 11 years
Contrary to popular opinion, Sudbury is NOT a place where lifers can
just walk out.
But Hamilton decided to escape after friends arranged to be nearby in a
car one night in April 1983. He told us: “I made a run for it at
midnight. I burst down this long corridor towards the exit but the
screws raised the alarm. I just kept running and running as fast as I
could. I remember my heart was racing.
“I could hear them all behind me shouting, switching on the perimeter
lights and I could hear their dogs, huge alsatians, barking and I could
imagine them salivating with big teeth wanting to bite me.
“I had to hide for 10 minutes but then my guys turned up and off we
went like a bat out of hell.”
Hamilton was smuggled on to a ferry and arrived in Dublin where his
criminal contacts gave him false papers and a new identity.
But he had to flee that drug and gun-ridden city after refusing to
deliver “illegal packages”.
He sailed to Amsterdam and met a French girl called Leila who gave
birth to his daughter Tara and now lives in northern France.
Hamilton told us: “Leila was beautiful and we stayed with each other
for about a year but she dumped me and broke my heart.
“She had my little girl Tara who I see whenever I can but because of my
circumstances it’s not easy.”
Hamilton drifted on to Marseilles where he says got involved in a
stolen car racket.
But he had to flee THAT city after other gangs muscled in.
He decided to head for the easy-going life of the Amazon jungle.
Hamilton says: “There were so many beautiful women there that I spent
most of my time in bed with them and having weird smokes.
“It was a fabulous time but after a couple of months I wanted to get
back to France.”
Hamilton headed for Montpellier where he and a “business partner”
opened an Irish bar called Kennedy’s near the town’s French Foreign
Trade boomed until the regiment was sent to Bosnia and Hamilton had a
row with his partner.
Hamilton, wearing designer sunglasses as he spoke to us in
Montpellier’s St Charles Brasserie, is cagey about where all the money
has come from for his escapades.
He claims he now has French documents and gets French dole.
But he is clearly familiar with the local drug scene – and most of his
hideaways in the last 17 years have been drug havens.
When we asked about his long-lost family, the cynical lifer had no
He has had no contact with dad Tony, Sheffield-born mum Jean – who wept
at his trial – brother David, 46, Martin, 42 and sister Helen, 41, for
Hamilton, now calling himself Joe Kennedy, said: “I expect my dad is
dead now. Perhaps my mum’s dead too. I don’t know.”
Last night a spokesman for Derbyshire police, who are liaising with
Scotland Yard’s Extradition Squad and Interpol, said: “We want to thank
the Sunday People for the professional way they went about finding
“We are taking every step to arrest him as soon as possible.”