Serial killer Ivan Milat dead at 74
Australia's worst serial killer Ivan Milat has died, aged 74.
Milat was diagnosed with oesophagus and stomach cancer and given three months to live back in May.
He had been in and out of hospital this year and was moved to a secure annex at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick on October 11. He reportedly took a turn for the worse on October 14 and was moved to the ICU where he was under heavy guard.
He died at 4.30am today.
Milat had been in prison since his 1994 arrest for the murders of seven backpackers whose remains were found in the Belanglo State Forest, an hour's drive north of Goulburn.
He was convicted in 1996 and given seven consecutive life sentences.
Milat made his first public appearance in years in May when he was admitted to hospital for treatment. He looked gaunt as he sat handcuffed in a wheelchair, pushed by armed prison guards as they transferred him from the hospital to Long Bay jail.
He was often ferried between the Sydney hospital and Long Bay to undergo chemotherapy. The hospital wing at Long Bay does not provide chemotherapy, making his heavily guarded trips to Prince of Wales necessary.
The killer, who had not been seen in public for a decade, had reportedly shed more than 20kg from his once stocky frame.
Up until his diagnosis with cancer, Milat had been housed in the High Risk Management prison, known as Supermax, in the regional city of Goulburn in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Milat continued to claim his innocence in the vicious torture murders he committed between 1989 and 1992.
Milat kidnapped, raped, shot, and stabbed three German, two British and two Australian victims whose remains were found in Belanglo.
Police believed Milat's killing spree did not start and end in Belanglo, and that for decades he had roamed NSW highways and selected victims whose names remain on the State's missing or unsolved murder files.
But every attempt by detectives to elicit any information or a confession from Milat failed.
His decades of incarceration were littered with protestations of innocence and appeal claims to politicians, and the High Court of Australia, as well as escape attempts.
Milat's continual hunger strikes and self-harm episodes, most famously severing his finger with a plastic knife in Supermax in 2009, were largely viewed as bids to get out of prison and potentially escape.
When he finally did leave Supermax, he weighed about 44kg and was significantly weakened by advancing cancer.
Ivan Robert Marko Milat was the fifth of 14 children of Croatian-born Stjepan Milat and his Australian wife, Margaret.
An intelligent child dubbed the "professor" by a teacher, Milat was subjected to beatings by his father with a piece of four-by-two as he held him down with a boot in his back in the driveway of the Milat family home.
Milat began wagging school and after the age of about 14 never returned.
Known in his family as "Mac", Ivan developed a gun obsession and began knocking off milk money from houses and committing burglaries.
He faced Liverpool Children's Court in 1962 for his first offence, stealing in a dwelling, and was let off before being jailed for the first time just months later.
He turned 18 inside Mount Penang Juvenile Institution and, once freed, became a car thief.
Milat then became a road worker for the Department of Main Roads, a job that would take him across the highways of NSW and back.
MILAT'S HORRIFYING CRIMES
Milat developed a reputation as a "scary bloke", a big drinker and a cannabis smoker.
In 1971, he kidnapped two female hitchhikers and raped one in chillingly similar circumstances to the Belanglo abductions and boasted to his victims that he'd "done it before … a number of times".
Two teenagers hitchhiking on the Hume Highway near Liverpool on the Easter weekend of 1971 accepted a lift with Milat who produced knives and a rope.
He drove them to a secluded field in the Southern Highlands, near Goulburn, and raped one after saying if neither girl would have sex with him he was going to kill them.
At his 1974 trial, Milat got off the rape charge and thereafter swore off alcohol and cannabis and became a workaholic and married a young teenage girl.
After the marriage broke down in 1989, the Belanglo backpacker murders began.
Five months after his divorce, in December 1989, Milat abducted Victorians Deborah Everist and James Gibson, both 19, and stabbed them to death in Belanglo.
For almost four years, the parents of the two young backpackers lived in hope their missing children would turn up.
In 1990, Milat attempted to kidnap at gunpoint British ex-army soldier Paul Onions, who had hitched a ride in Milat's vehicle on the Hume Highway south of Liverpool.
When Milat, who called himself Bill, pulled out ropes and a pistol, Mr Onions leapt from the car and escaped, only identifying Milat years later after bodies were found in Belanglo.
In January 1991, Milat abducted and murdered German Simon Schmidl, 20, who was hitchhiking alone on the Hume to meet up with her mother in Melbourne.
Milat stabbed her at least eight times and severing her spinal cord.
A year later, Milat abducted German couple Gabor Neugebauer, 21, and Anja Habschied, 20, shooting Gabor six times in the head and decapitating Habschied, whose head has never been found.
In April 1992, Britons Caroline Clarke, 21, and Joanne Walters, 22, were abducted, shot and stabbed and theirs were the first of the Belanglo victims found, by orienteers, five months later.
In October 1993, the remains of Deborah Everist and James Gibson were found, followed by the bodies of the three German backpackers.
All the victims had been placed face down with their hands behind their backs and covered with a pyramid of twigs and ferns; campsites with shell casings, cigarette butts and bottles lay near some of the bodies.
Detective Superintendent Clive Small declared the murders the work of a serial killer and set up Task Force Air to find the culprit.
Supt Small established a suspect list and narrowed it down to 32 names, which included Milat.
In November 1993, Mr Onions called NSW Police from the UK to report his attempted abduction by a man called "Bill" with a distinctive moustache driving on the Hume Highway out of Sydney.
On May 5, 1994, Mr Onions flew to Australia and identified Milat from a photograph.
On the morning of May 22, 1994, 50 police officers surrounded Milat's Eagle Vale home in western Sydney and he was arrested without incident.
Items and a cache of weapons were found in the walls and roof of Milat's house and at the homes of his brothers, including camping equipment and clothing belonging to the Belanglo victims.
His trial for seven murders and attempted murder, false imprisonment and robbery began in March 1996 and ended 15 weeks later with Milat's conviction on all counts.
While locked up at Maitland prison in 1997, Milat made a failed attempt to escape with drug baron George Savvas.
Milat was immediately transferred to Goulburn maximum security prison.
In 2001, after the High Risk Management Correctional Centre (Supermax) opened, Milat was placed in one of its units.
He remained in Supermax, apart from a short sojourn in January 2009 to Goulburn Hospital after cutting off his finger, until his hospitalisation for cancer.
His death means some of NSW's unsolved murders remain a mystery.