‘Rot in hell’: Notorious serial killer Ivan Milat dies

 

Australia's most notorious serial killer Ivan Milat has died in Long Bay Jail's hospital wing at 4.07am AEDT.

For two decades he used his job as a road worker to hunt and kill young men and women, most of them hitchhikers, on the highways up and down the NSW coast.

His killing spree ended the carefree way young Australians and international backpackers travelled around the country. Until the bodies of seven of his victims were found in the Belanglo State Forest in 1992 and 1993, hitchhiking in Australia was almost considered a rite of passage for young people.

Backpacker murderer Ivan Milat has died in jail, aged 74.
Backpacker murderer Ivan Milat has died in jail, aged 74.

He was convicted of murdering seven but experienced homicide detectives believe he was responsible for the deaths of at least six more young people whose bodies have never been found and possibly dozens more in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections Anthony Roberts said that Milat could "rot in hell".

"He was sentenced to die in jail and he was going to die in jail," Mr Roberts said.

"I wasn't going to have him take up a public hospital bed.

"Both the commissioner and I were of that opinion.

"We had him removed from a hospital and sent back to Long Bay Jail.

"He can rot in hell.

"He showed no remorse. We ensure the sentence was carried out."

He took the secret of those deaths to his grave despite the pleas from police and the families of his victims for a deathbed confession.

They wanted to know who his evil accomplice was when he slaughtered the seven backpackers whose bodies were found in the forest and how many other missing young people he had killed.

"He didn't even have the decency to do that," retired assistant commissioner Clive Small who led Task Force Air into the disappearance of the seven backpackers, said.

Retired assistant commissioner Clive Small believes Milat was responsible for other murders. Picture: Richard Dobson
Retired assistant commissioner Clive Small believes Milat was responsible for other murders. Picture: Richard Dobson

Milat, 74, was transferred from Goulburn Jail's Supermax, where he was serving seven life sentences, to the high-security section of Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital in May after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. The cancer had spread to his stomach.

When he died, the weight of the once-powerful road ganger had dropped from 88kg to less than 60kg in just over two months.

His barbaric murders were reported around the world and spurned a number of books, TV shows as well as the phenomenal Wolf Creek movies starring John Jarratt.

Ivan Milat was serving seven life sentences in jail before his death.
Ivan Milat was serving seven life sentences in jail before his death.

Ian Clarke, whose daughter Caroline, 21, was one of Milat's victims, said while he wanted Milat to tell the truth, he had not wanted to give him the chance to grandstand.

"I have no wish to give him the opportunity to boast about his evil behaviour and listen to even further evidence of what he may have done to Caroline and all the others," Mr Clarke, a retired manager with the Bank of England, said.

"However I think there has always been suspicions that he had other victims and knowing what a harrowing experience it was waiting to find out what had happened to Caroline, it would be a wonderful relief to all those parents of other missing children if their anguish could be set at rest."

Caroline Clarke, from the UK, was 21 when she was killed. Her body was found in the Belanglo State Forest in 1992.
Caroline Clarke, from the UK, was 21 when she was killed. Her body was found in the Belanglo State Forest in 1992.

His death has brought no solace or "closure" to the families of his victims who had been constantly taunted and reminded about how their loved ones were taken from them.

"He destroyed everyone," Tim Everist, 51, whose sister Deborah was murdered by Milat in 1989, said from Melbourne.

"I could say a lot about diplomacy but his death can't come too soon. It was long overdue."

Even hardened cops who worked on the case said as much as they tried, it would never go from their minds.

"The sheer terror and pain is unimaginable," retired chief superintendent Rod Lynch, who helped lead the hunt for the killer, said.

"I try to put it out of my mind but when it hits the news it comes back.

"It was three and half years of my life. It was not an easy time. The relief when he was arrested was enormous that the killing would stop."

 

 

 

 

Milat was convicted of murdering Deborah Everist, 19, and her boyfriend James Gibson, 19, of Victoria, on December 30, 1989.

German backpacker Simone Schmidl, 21, was killed on January 20, 1991, and fellow German couple Anja Habscheid, 20, and her boyfriend Gabor Neugebauer, 21, were killed on December 26, 1991.

British friends Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, 22, were killed on April 18, 1992.

Australia's biggest manhunt was launched after the bodies were found in the Belanglo State Forest between September 1992 and November 1993 and there remains speculation he did not act alone.

Joanne Walters’ body was discovered in the Belanglo State Forest in 1992 and Ivan Milat was convicted of her murder.
Joanne Walters’ body was discovered in the Belanglo State Forest in 1992 and Ivan Milat was convicted of her murder.

The judge at his 1996 murder trial, Justice David Hunt, said in sentencing Milat and it was "inevitable (he) was not alone".

Milat was convicted of abducting another British backpacker, Paul Onions, 24, in January 1990.

Onions escaped when Milat pulled his car over just short of the turn off to the forest.

Like the others backpackers, Milat had picked him up on the Hume Hwy near Casula.

Police believe Milat was also responsible for the murder of Keren Rowland, 20, who went missing in February 1971; Leanne Goodall, 21, Robyn Hickie, 17, and Amanda Robinson, 14, who went missing between December 30, 1978 and April 20, 1979; Joanne Lacey, 16, and Lesley David Toshak who went missing in April 1981; nurses Gillian Jamieson and Deborah Balkan, both 19, who were last seen in Parramatta in July 1980 and Dianne Pennachio, 29, last seen leaving Lake George Hotel at Bungendore to hitch home to Queanbeyan in September 1991.

 

 

 

 

He has also been linked to the murder of Peter Letcher, 18, of Bathurst, who disappeared while hitching to see his girlfriend in January 1988.

His body was found near a fire trail in the Jenolan Caves State Forest and three bullets recovered at crime scene linked to the same Ruger 10/22 model rifle Milat used to murder Caroline Clarke and Gabor Neugebauer.

Milat's family have already organised his funeral which is understood to be for family only.

Milat has eight siblings still alive as well as nephews and nieces.

One nephew, Matthew Mueller, who changed his name to Milat, is serving 43 years with a minimum of 30 years for murdering a friend, David Auchterlonie, 17, in 2010 in the Belanglo State Forest.

 

 

A younger Ivan Milat, before his arrest in 1994.
A younger Ivan Milat, before his arrest in 1994.
Ivan Milat leaves Prince of Wales Hospital to be returned to Long Bay Jail. Picture: Diimex
Ivan Milat leaves Prince of Wales Hospital to be returned to Long Bay Jail. Picture: Diimex