THE father of a schoolgirl who was murdered by Peter Tobin has been reunited with her possessions after almost 21 years.
Michael Hamilton has finally been given the purse, jewellery, and pictures that 15-year-old Vicky had with her when she was abducted.
The 61-year-old also received a priceless item he did not even realise existed: a tape recording of his daughter laughing and singing as she revised for exams.
Mr Hamilton, who did not previously have any recordings of Vicky, said last night: “I’m overjoyed – it’s like having Vicky back in the room again.”
Vicky went missing in February 1991 as she waited for a bus in Bathgate, West Lothian.
Mr Hamilton, from Redding near Falkirk, had to wait an agonising 16 years before her remains were found in the garden of Tobin’s former home in Margate, Kent.
And it took a further four years of arguments with prosecutors and his other daughter before Vicky’s belongings were finally handed back.
Cradling Vicky’s purple purse, Mr Hamilton said: “It is a huge weight off my shoulders.
“To most people these items wouldn’t mean much but to me they’re all I have of my daughter.”
He continued: “I was overjoyed when the police told me I would be getting them all back.
“I’d been looking forward to it for a good few years.
“It’s like putting a jigsaw back together, it’s more complete.
“We hope we can get on with our lives now.”
Mr Hamilton was given diaries, pictures, letters and tape recordings which had been taken from Vicky’s bedroom by officers investigating her disappearance.
And when Mr Hamilton played one of the recordings he was astonished to hear his daughter’s voice for the first time in 21 years.
The teenager had recorded herself as she revised for a biology exam.
“It was a wee bit difficult, listening to it for the first time.
“But I think we’ll treasure the recording more than anything,” he said.
Vicky, speaking in a clear, confident voice, can be heard reeling off facts for her exam.
The recording then cuts to Vicky laughing and singing to a faint tune in the background.
With tragic irony, Vicky can be heard at one point singing the lyric “live forever”.
Mr Hamilton said: “I didn’t have any other recordings of her voice.
“So it’s horrible circumstances, but in a way it’s very lucky.
“All I ever had of her was school photos and a lock of her hair.”
Picking up the tiny lock in a jewellery box and holding it to his face, he said: “I can still smell her to this day.”
Getting Vicky’s belongings back involved a long battle with Mr Hamilton’s estranged daughter, Sharon Brown, which nearly ended in court.
Mrs Brown wanted possession of one of Vicky’s rings, but a compromise was reached.
The ring has been given to Mrs Brown’s 15-year-old daughter, Emma-Jane, who is also Mr Hamilton’s oldest grandchild.
It was Vicky’s purse that helped bring Tobin to justice for her murder.
The killer stashed the purse underneath a Portakabin near the bus station in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, in a bid to mislead detectives.
But a trace of his son’s DNA on the purse led detectives to charge him with Vicky’s murder. It also opened up the horrific possibility that Tobin used his son to lure Vicky in to his car.
Mr Hamilton, who suffered a stroke and a heart attack in recent years, as well as the death of his brother from cancer just before Christmas, gets particular satisfaction from having the purse back.
He said: “I know Tobin is in the jail, I know he reads the papers, and I know he reads what I say about him.
“The purse is the piece of evidence that let them track him down.
“If he sees this in jail, I hope he feels terrible. This is what nailed him.”
He added: “I’m amazed it’s in this good condition, for it lying underneath a Portakabin for all that time.”
Tobin, now 65, killed Polish student Angelika Kluk in 2006, while working as a handyman in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Glasgow.
He was working under a false name, having already served 12 years in prison for a double rape in 1993.
The Kluk case led officers to make the connection with Vicky’s murder.
Tobin had lived in Bathgate at the same time as Vicky’s disappearance. A search of the house revealed a knife with a trace of Vicky’s skin on it.
A later search of Tobin’s former home in Margate, Kent, revealed Vicky’s body in the garden, which had been cut in half. Nearby were the remains of Dinah McNicol, 18.
Tobin is serving three life sentences for the killings.
Despite his joy at getting Vicky’s belongings back, Mr Hamilton’s hatred of Tobin is undiminished.
Mr Hamilton, who has already arranged to be buried next to Vicky, said: “When I go to the grave, I know she’s not lying there as one person, she’s in two bits.
“I just hope I live long enough to see Tobin dead.”
He said he has arranged to be buried next to Vicky at the family plot in Polmont.
Mr Hamilton said: “When the time does come I will be lying next to her.”