He has been described as Scotland's most hated criminal.

Nicknamed the ‘Blackhill Butcher’, Martin Hamilton was a feared and ruthless figure in the city's underworld.

The nickname was a reference to an area of Glasgow where Hamilton had operated over many years.

In fact, he was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, and lived a few miles away in Anderston close to the local police office.

Hamilton was a notorious figure in the city in the late 1980s and 90s, dealing in drugs and participating in armed robbery. 

In 1984 he had been sentenced to six years at the High Court in Glasgow for assault to severe injury and possessing an offensive weapon.

However, on his release from prison the police had less success, with as many as 12 High Court cases collapsing, usually because witnesses were too scared to testify.

In early 1990 Hamilton was shot on two separate occasions, near his home, prompting a headline in the Glasgow Times describing him as "Scotland's Most Hated Criminal”.

Few, apart from Hamilton, who was not seriously injured, disagreed at the time.

In 1992 Hamilton, then 30, was among four men found guilty at the High Court in Stirling of conspiracy to rob a branch of the Dunfermline Building Society at Anniesland Cross, the previous December.

Hamilton was jailed for nine years with one of his co-accused getting 15 years.

Glasgow Times:

The gang had broken in overnight, armed with knives and an imitation handgun and were lying in wait for staff to arrive in an attempt to force them to hand over £30,000 (£68,000 today) from the cash machine.

Armed police however had advanced warning, surrounded the building and sealed off Anniesland Cross to prevent escape.

After his release from prison in the late 1990s, Hamilton set out for Edinburgh in a bid to muscle in on its lucrative drugs market, particularly heroin.

He focused on the west of the city, particularly areas such as Broomhouse, Wester Hailes and Sighthill. 

Hamilton ran a network of drug dealers ruling through fear and torturing and maiming anyone who stood in his way.

Officers from the then Lothian and Borders force knew little about Hamilton when he arrived. 

But a string of shocking assaults against dealers who owed him money had brought Hamilton to their attention.

It was also alleged that Hamilton regularly abducted young male drug dealers and raped them at gunpoint if they failed to do his bidding.

Concerned police chiefs quickly put a surveillance team on a round-the-clock watch.

They discovered teenage dealers were supplied with heroin and ecstasy by Hamilton but faced horrific retribution if they failed to deliver payment. 

He had seized control of established dealer networks through a mix of extreme violence and intimidation and set about expanding them. 

In one incident, a Hamilton enforcer cut off a young man's finger and tried to gouge out his eye with a teaspoon.

Officers also identified an Edinburgh publican targeted for extortion by Hamilton.

The businessman said: "I would rather pay him another £30,000 than give evidence against him."

Officers from an elite surveillance team watched the gangster around-the-clock but as with past cases involving Hamilton, their investigation was hampered by a reluctance of terrified victims to speak out.

The gangster's downfall came when a teenage couple bravely stood up to him in court.

The girlfriend and boyfriend were held captive for 11 hours in a flat in Anderston, during which they were scalded with boiling water and stabbed.

They were then forced to stand in a bath so they would not drip blood onto carpets.

Their willingness to testify allowed detectives to revisit Hamilton's victims in Edinburgh and some agreed to provide statements.

In November 2000, Hamilton was found guilty of drug dealing, abduction, assault and torture at the High Court in Inverness.

The trial had been held in the Highlands capital - 200 miles from where the crimes took place - to secure the safety of terrified prosecution witnesses who were all placed on police protection schemes. 

The trial judge Lord Kingarth, who recommended Hamilton serve a minimum of nine years before being considered for parole, told the gangster: "It is clear to me that you pose a substantial danger to the public while at liberty. 

"You took sadistic pleasure in the infliction of pain and the inspiration of real terror."

At the end of the case one senior Edinburgh detective even compared Hamilton to the notorious child killer Robert Black.

He said: "Hamilton is without doubt the most dangerous criminal we've ever seen. 

"He is also one of the most evil men I have ever come across, possibly second only to Robert Black."

Detectives also believed Hamilton, who they had followed for almost five months, was paving the way for a high-profile Glasgow crime figure to takeover Edinburgh's drugs trade after he was freed from prison.

Despite still being considered dangerous, Hamilton was released on parole in September 2014 from HMP Shotts but by the following year had disappeared without trace.

At first police thought he had simply done a runner.

He had been due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on other charges but failed to show.

An arrest warrant was issued in April 2015, and Police Scotland also made a public appeal to find Hamilton.

They described the gangster as potentially dangerous and warned the public not to approach him.

In October, a further appeal was made on the BBC's Crimewatch programme and the Crimestoppers charity also offered a reward of £2000 for information leading to his arrest.

By this time police were receiving intelligence that Hamilton may have come to harm.

In December 2015 his remains were found in remote woodland near the Five Sisters Business Park in West Lothian by a dog walker.

Glasgow Times:

The gangster may have been murdered up to eight months before the discovery of his remains.

Only the 53-year-old criminal's skull and some parts of his spine were in the shallow grave.

There were conflicting views at the time as to why Hamilton had been murdered.

He was operating in small towns such as Blackburn in West Lothian and Harthill in North Lanarkshire, and it was thought he was trying to muscle in again on the Edinburgh drug scene.

It was also said that the Glaswegian may have been targeted by Liverpool criminals after he them ripped off for £40,000.

Hamilton had taken over the debts of cocaine users after their dealer was taken to hospital in a road accident.

Hamilton was asked to collect the £40,000, but failed to hand over the amount to his Liverpool bosses.

In January 2017, Liverpool-born James Farrelly who lived locally in West Lothian was arrested and charged with his murder.

Prosecutors allege Farrelly shot Hamilton in the head with a firearm, then inflicted sharp and blunt-force injuries to his head, between April 16 and December 17, 2015.

Farrelly, nicknamed Scouse, was also charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dumping the body in woodland.

He faced further allegations of being involved in the supply of hard drugs, all of which he denied.

However, he never stood trial.

In March 2017, Farrelly was freed from Saughton Prison in Edinburgh because he was dying from cancer. 

He returned to his home in Blackburn, West Lothian, and passed away a few days later.

After Hamilton's death a young man came forward to say that he had been raped by him while in Dumfries prison in the 1990s and then for a second time in a local hotel after he failed to deliver drugs for him.

Hamilton had also been due to stand trial for the sexual assaults when he first went missing.

His funeral was delayed for eight months because of the police investigation.

The 20-minute ceremony in August 2016 eventually took place at Glasgow's Maryhill Crematorium with only a handful of mourners in attendance.

A death notice the previous week had described Hamilton as a beloved son to his mother Margaret, loving brother, much-loved uncle, great-uncle and friend to many. 

At the time one underworld source said: "Martin was a lone wolf. He had some pals but no strong allegiances to any particular gang.

"No one wanted to work with him really. He was definitely Scotland's most hated criminal, probably because of the violence and sexual abuse he was known for.

“I think he was a true psychopath."