Ivan Milat

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Ivan Milat
Ivan Milat.jpg
Milat's 1971 mug shot
Ivan Robert Marko Milat

(1944-12-27)27 December 1944
Died27 October 2019(2019-10-27) (aged 74)
Other names"Bill"
The Backpacker Killer
The Backpacker Murderer
EmployerRoads & Traffic Authority
Known forBackpacker murders
Criminal statusDeceased
Conviction(s)7 counts murder (27 July 1996)

1 count attempted murder (27 July 1996)
1 count false imprisonment (27 July 1996)

1 count robbery (27 July 1996)
Criminal penalty7 life sentences without parole (murder)

6 years imprisonment (attempted murder)
6 years imprisonment (false imprisonment)

6 years imprisonment (robbery)
Span of crimes
State(s)New South Wales
Weapons.22 calibre Ruger 10/22
Bowie knife
Date apprehended
22 May 1994
Imprisoned atLong Bay Correctional Centre (2019-d)

Goulburn Correctional Centre (1997-2019)

Maitland Gaol (1996-1997)
Ivan milat signature.png

Ivan Robert Marko Milat (27 December 1944 – 27 October 2019[1]) was an Australian serial killer who was convicted of the backpacker murders in 1996.


Milat was the son of a Croatian emigrant, Stjepan Marko "Steven" Milat (1902–1983), and an Australian, Margaret Elizabeth Piddleston (1920–2001), who married when she was 16.[2][3][4] Milat was the fifth-born of their 14 children.[5] Many of the 10 Milat boys were well known to local police, and Milat displayed antisocial behaviour at a young age, leading to a stint in a residential school at age 13.[6] By 17, he was in a juvenile detention centre for theft, and at 19, was involved in a shop break in.[6] In 1964, he was sentenced to 18 months for a break and enter, and a month after release, he was arrested for driving a stolen car and was sentenced to 2 years hard labour.[6] In September 1967, aged 23, he was sentenced to 3 years for theft.[6] In April 1971, he was charged with the abduction of two 18 year-old hitchhikers and the rape of one of them.[7] While awaiting trial, he was involved in a string of robberies with some of his brothers, before faking his suicide and fleeing to New Zealand for a year.[6] He was rearrested in 1974, but the robbery and kidnap cases against him failed at trial with the help of the Milat's family lawyer, John Marsden. Taking on a job as a truck driver in 1975, he met a 16-year-old girl who was then pregnant by his cousin, whom he married in 1983.[6] She left him in 1987 due to domestic violence and they divorced in October 1989.[6] By the time of the first crimes, Milat had worked on and off for 20 years for the Roads & Traffic Authority all over the state.[6]

Backpacker murders[edit]

The backpacker murders were a spate of serial killings that took place in New South Wales, Australia, between 1989 and 1993, committed by Ivan Milat. The bodies of seven missing young people aged 19 to 22 were discovered partially buried in the Belanglo State Forest, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south-west of the New South Wales town of Berrima. Five of the victims were foreign backpackers (three German, two British) and two were Australian travellers from Melbourne.

Arrest and trial[edit]

On 26 February 1994, police surveillance of the Milat house at Cinnabar Street, Eagle Vale commenced.[6] Police learnt that Milat had recently sold his silver Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive shortly after the discovery of the bodies of Clarke and Walters.[8] Police also confirmed that Milat had not been working on any of the days of the attacks[6][9] and acquaintances also told police about Milat's obsession with weapons.[10][11] Milat's brother, Bill, who often had his identity used by his brother for work or vehicle registrations, was questioned by investigators.[6] When the connection between the Belanglo murders and Paul Onions' experience was made, Onions flew to Australia to help with the investigation.[12] On 5 May 1994, Onions positively identified Milat as the man who had picked him up and attempted to assault him.[13]

Milat was arrested at his home on 22 May 1994 on robbery and weapon charges related to the Onions attack after 50 police officers surrounded the premises, including heavily armed officers from the Tactical Operations Unit.[14][9] The search of Milat's home revealed various weapons, including a .22-calibre Anschütz Model 1441/42 rifle and parts of a .22 calibre Ruger 10/22 rifle that matched the type used in the murders, a Browning pistol, and a Bowie knife.[15] Also uncovered was foreign currency, clothing, a tent, sleeping bags, camping equipment and cameras belonging to several of his victims.[15][16] Homes belonging to his mother and five of his brothers were also searched at the same time by over 300 police,[17] uncovering a total of 24 weapons, 250 kg of ammunition, and several more items belonging to the victims.[15]

Milat appeared in court on 23 May, but he did not enter a plea.[18] On 31 May, Milat was also charged with the seven backpacker murders.[15] On 28 June, Milat sacked his defence lawyer, Marsden, and sought legal aid to pay for his defence.[15] Meanwhile, brothers Richard and Walter were tried in relation to weapons, drugs and stolen items found on their properties.[15] A committal hearing for Milat regarding the murders began on 24 October and lasted until 12 December, during which over 200 witnesses appeared.[15] Based on the evidence, at the beginning of February 1995, Milat was remanded in custody until June that same year.

On 26 March 1996, the trial opened at the Supreme Court of New South Wales and was prosecuted by Mark Tedeschi.[19] His defence argued that, in spite of the evidence, there was no non-circumstantial proof Milat was guilty and attempted to shift the blame to other members of his family, particularly Richard.[19] 145 witnesses took the stand, including members of the Milat family who endeavoured to provide alibis, and, on 18 June, Milat himself.[20] On 27 July 1996, after 18 weeks of testimony, a jury found Milat guilty of the murders.[14][21] He was given a life sentence on each count without the possibility of parole. He was also convicted of the attempted murder, false imprisonment and robbery of Onions, for which he received six years' jail each.[22]

Incarceration and appeals[edit]

On his first day, when arriving at Maitland Gaol, Milat was beaten by another inmate.[23] Almost a year later, on 16 May 1997, he made an escape attempt alongside convicted drug dealer and former Sydney councillor George Savvas.[24] The plan failed and Savvas was found hanged in his cell the next day, and Milat was transferred to the maximum security section at Goulburn Correctional Centre in Goulburn, New South Wales.[25]

In November 1997, Milat appealed against his convictions due to a breach of his common law right to legal representation, as established in Dietrich v The Queen. However, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the appeal.[26] In 2004, Milat filed an application with the High Court of Australia that he be allowed special leave to appeal on new grounds. The application for leave was ultimately dismissed, affirming the Court of Criminal Appeal's decision to disallow his initial appeal.[27][28] On 27 October 2005, in the NSW Supreme Court[29] Milat's final avenue of appeal was refused.[30] In 2006, two other application attempts were rejected as well, as was one in November 2011.[20]

In 2001, following the opening of the High Risk Management Corrections Centre (Supermax) at Goulburn Correctional Centre, Milat was transferred from the maximum security section of the prison into one of its 45 new units.[31]

In 2006, a toaster and TV given to Milat in his cell caused a public outcry.[32][20] On 26 January 2009, Milat cut off his little finger with a plastic knife, with the intention of mailing it to the High Court of Australia to force an appeal.[33] He was taken to Goulburn Base Hospital under high security; however, on 27 January 2009 Milat was returned to prison after doctors decided surgery was not possible.[34] Milat had previously self-harmed in 2001, when he swallowed razor blades, staples and other metal objects.[33] In May 2011, Milat went on a 9-day hunger strike, losing 25 kilograms in an unsuccessful attempt to be given a PlayStation.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Milat was one of fourteen children.[36]

He had one daughter,[37] and was briefly stepfather to the son of his first wife.[38]

Health and death[edit]

In May 2019, Milat was transferred to the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, and was subsequently diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer.[39] Following his treatment he was transferred to the Long Bay Correctional Centre to continue his custodial sentences.[40]

On 9 August 2019, a terminally ill Milat was moved to a secure treatment unit located at the Prince of Wales Hospital following the loss of 20 kilograms in previous weeks; Milat was also exhibiting a high temperature. His status, however, was reported as not life-threatening.[41]

On 27 October 2019, Milat died at 4:07 am within the hospital wing at Long Bay Correctional Centre. Milat's cause of death is yet to be determined, however NSW Corrective Services have confirmed that as Milat was in custody at the time of his death a coronial inquest will be held. He was 74 years old.[42][43]


  1. ^ Brown, Malcolm; Feneley, Rick (24 November 2010). "Life never a picnic for the dirt-poor, troubled Milat clan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  2. ^ Brown, Malcolm; Feneley, Rick (24 November 2010). "Life never a picnic for the dirt-poor, troubled Milat clan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Les (28 November 2010). "Does crime run in the Milat family tree?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Margaret Elizabeth Milat – HeavenAddress Resting Place". www.heavenaddress.com. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Les (21 July 2005). "Milat case stalked by uncertainty". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Case 109: Belanglo (Part 3)". 6 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Ivan Milat Biography". The Biography Channel. A+E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  8. ^ Marriott, Trevor (4 September 2013). The Evil Within – A Top Murder Squad Detective Reveals The Chilling True Stories of The World's Most Notorious Killers. John Blake Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-78219-365-4. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b Bellamy, Patrick. "Ivan Milat: The Last Ride". TruTV. Time Warner Inc. pp. 12–13. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  10. ^ Lennon, Troy (19 September 2017). "Twenty five years ago the first victims of Backpacker Killer Ivan Milat were found in Belanglo Forest". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  11. ^ Chapman, Simon (2013). Over Our Dead Bodies: Port Arthur and Australia's Fight for Gun Control (PDF). Sydney University Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-74332-031-0. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  12. ^ Bearup, Greg (21 September 2013). "1994: Clive Small, capturing Milat". The Australian. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  13. ^ Brown, Malcolm (2000). Bombs, Guns and Knives: Violent Crime in Australia. Sydney: New Holland. pp. 148–153. ISBN 1-86436-668-0.
  14. ^ a b "Timeline". Crime & Investigation Network. AETN UK. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Case 109: Belanglo (Part 4)". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. 13 April 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Ivan Milat". Crime & Investigation Network. Foxtel. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  17. ^ Kidd, Paul B. (1 August 2011). Australia's Serial Killers. Pan Macmillan Australia. p. 344. ISBN 978-1-74262-798-4. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  18. ^ Spielman, Peter James (31 May 1994). "Suspect charged in seven murders". The Dispatch. AP. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  19. ^ a b "The Trial". Crime & Investigation Network. AETN UK. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  20. ^ a b c "Case 109: Belanglo (Part 5)". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. 20 April 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  21. ^ Walker, Frank (23 May 2004). "Milat's brother claims police still treating him as murder suspect". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  22. ^ Newton, Michael (1 January 2006). The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Infobase Publishing. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-8160-6987-3. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  23. ^ "Skeleton key to unlock Ivan Milat mystery?". Herald Sun. AAP. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Maitland Correctional Centre Escape Attempt". Parliament of New South Wales. 20 May 1997. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  25. ^ "Skeleton key to unlock Ivan Milat mystery?". Herald Sun. AAP. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  26. ^ Regina v Milat [1998] NSWSC 795 (26 February 1998).
  27. ^ Milat v The Queen [2004] HCA 17, (2004) 205 ALR 338; (2004) 78 ALJR (24 February 2004).
  28. ^ "Serial killer Milat loses conviction appeal". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  29. ^ R v Milat (backpacker murders) [2005] NSWSC 920 (27 October 2005).
  30. ^ "Serial killer's appeal is refused". BBC News. 7 November 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  31. ^ "Australia's worst serial killer Ivan Milat has died aged 74". News.com.au. 27 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Milat gets TV, toaster returned to cell". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 July 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  33. ^ a b "Medics unable to reattach Milat's finger". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  34. ^ "Serial killer Ivan Milat cuts off finger in High Court protest". News.com.au. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  35. ^ Bashan, Yoni (15 May 2011). "Ivan Milat on hunger strike over Playstation". News.com.au. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  36. ^ https://www.smh.com.au/national/feuding-brothers-affairs-and-a-fake-story-the-unravelling-of-ivan-milat-20190603-p51tvp.html
  37. ^ https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/ivan-milats-daughter-lynise-opens-up-on-serial-killers-death/news-story/3e70be6273440c17f89ac809b02136cb
  38. ^ https://books.google.com.au/books?id=acfCYGPaqCoC&pg=PT152&lpg=PT152&dq=karen+duck+jason+milat&source=bl&ots=FDTaZo9dpu&sig=ACfU3U2406H5mncOA-kQq5tMqGwYpd4AiQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwibxOnFgMflAhULXn0KHcz3D8IQ6AEwFXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=karen%20duck%20jason%20milat&f=false
  39. ^ Cormack, Lucy (15 May 2019). "Serial killer Ivan Milat unlikely to return to supermax after terminal cancer diagnosis". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  40. ^ "Ivan Milat moves to Long Bay jail hospital from Prince of Wales". 28 May 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  41. ^ "Serial killer Ivan Milat transferred to Sydney hospital from jail". The 7.30 Report. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  42. ^ Thomas, Sarah (27 October 2019). "Ivan Milat, Australia's most notorious serial killer, dead at 74". ABC News. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  43. ^ "Backpacker Serial Killer Ivan Milat Is Dead". 10 daily. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2019.