No remorse: Serial killer Ivan Milat issued a final insult to families of his victims on his deathbed. Picture: STR/Fairfax Ltd/AFP
No remorse: Serial killer Ivan Milat issued a final insult to families of his victims on his deathbed. Picture: STR/Fairfax Ltd/AFP

Milat’s final deathbed message

When Australia's most notorious serial killer was given three months to live in May, police launched a secret operation to persuade him to confess to his crimes.

It involved dispatching teams of detectives to his bedside at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital, where the 74-year-old was being treated for cancer to the stomach and oesophagus.

According to The Australian, police changed the combination of investigators until they found a team Milat felt comfortable talking to, visiting him on at least eight different occasions.

When he hung on beyond the three months he was expected to live, they intensified their efforts, showing him videos of the grief-stricken families of his victims.

Convicted murderer Ivan Milat (right) and the seven backpackers he was convicted of killing. Picture: Rick/Rycroft
Convicted murderer Ivan Milat (right) and the seven backpackers he was convicted of killing. Picture: Rick/Rycroft


It was hoped the videos, which included historical footage of interviews spliced with news reports, would trigger a series of deathbed confessions to crimes for which he was convicted and also those he was suspected of.

"The detectives laid out the overwhelming evidence that led to Milat being convicted in 1996 of the murders of seven young backpackers," national crime correspondent David Murray writes.

"They put to him suspicions he was involved in further murders and missing-person cases, outlining the individual cases."

But Milat wasn't having any of it, instead issuing a final insult to the families of his victims and suspected victims and ensuring they never get answers.

As he watched clip after clip of victims' relatives reliving the pain he had caused - and in the case of suspected victims, family members' agony of not knowing where their bodies were - Milat offered up one final insult.

"People die, they should just get over it," he told a detective, according to The Australian.

 

No remorse: Ivan Milat smiles in a police car outside court in Sydney in 1997. Picture: Rick Rycroft
No remorse: Ivan Milat smiles in a police car outside court in Sydney in 1997. Picture: Rick Rycroft

 

Surrounded by police guard, the body of Ivan Milat arrives at the Forensic Medicine & Coroners Court complex in Lidcombe. Picture: Tim Pascoe
Surrounded by police guard, the body of Ivan Milat arrives at the Forensic Medicine & Coroners Court complex in Lidcombe. Picture: Tim Pascoe

During an hour-long visit by his brother Bill at Long Bay Jail on Friday, Milat passed on a sealed note to his family to be opened only after his death, according to Network Ten.

Police were reportedly aware of the note, which did not include a confession but communicated his "final wishes".

Despite refusing to issue a deathbed confession, Milat was still keen to talk about the murders until the very end.

Before his death on Sunday morning, the serial killer's last visitor was his nephew Alistair Shipsey, who told Ten his uncle talked non-stop about the case during their hour together.

"He wasn't in a good way at all, I think because of the morphine they were giving him, but he never shut up about the case, he talked the whole time," he said.

Last Tuesday, when it became clear death was imminent and no confession was forthcoming, Milat was sent back to jail to die.

New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections Anthony Roberts told The Daily Telegraph Milat had shown no remorse for his crimes and deserved no mercy on his deathbed, adding he could "rot in hell".

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

"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 ensured the sentence was carried out." A Corrective Services spokeswoman told news.com.au Milat was "found dead in his cell" just after 4am on Friday.

 

Former NSW detective Clive Small believes Milat killed others. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Former NSW detective Clive Small believes Milat killed others. Picture: Justin Lloyd

 

Detectives inspect Milat’s property in May 994 following his arrest for the murder of seven backpackers. Picture: Jeff Darmanin for the Macarthur Chronicle
Detectives inspect Milat’s property in May 994 following his arrest for the murder of seven backpackers. Picture: Jeff Darmanin for the Macarthur Chronicle

 

Milat is suspected of having killed at least six other people according to former NSW detective Clive Small, who led the original investigation.

Mr Small believes if Milat had not been arrested, only death would have stopped him from committing more murders because he took so much pleasure from them.

"Ivan would have kept killing until he was caught or died. I think you could tell that about how we went about picking up the victims," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"The efforts he went to, to get them, then the efforts he went to, dealing with them in the forest showed he was a man who was committed to his crimes and committed to committing more crimes.

"When you look at the crime scene it appeared like he was spending quite a bit of time there - he was not rushing through the act," he said.

"There were other indications that he enjoyed it."

Mr Small suspects Milat was responsible for the death of several young people, including some whose bodies have never been found.

 

Suspected Milat victim Peter Letcher at the age of 14. Picture: Supplied
Suspected Milat victim Peter Letcher at the age of 14. Picture: Supplied

 

Keren Rowland was 20 years old when she went missing on 26 February 1971. She is believed to have been murdered by serial killer Ivan Milat. Picture: News Corp
Keren Rowland was 20 years old when she went missing on 26 February 1971. She is believed to have been murdered by serial killer Ivan Milat. Picture: News Corp

 

Suspected Milat victims Robin Hoinville-Bartram and Anita Cunningham (pictured with a male friend) disappeared 40 years ago while hitchhiking. Picture: Adam Armstrong
Suspected Milat victims Robin Hoinville-Bartram and Anita Cunningham (pictured with a male friend) disappeared 40 years ago while hitchhiking. Picture: Adam Armstrong

They include Peter Letcher, 18, whose body was recovered from the Jenolan State Forest in January 1988. Police initially treated the case as a drug-related hit but now suspect the teen was picked up with Milat as he hitchhiked home to Bathurst in November 1987 after visiting a former girlfriend in Sydney.

Mr Small suspects Milat also murdered Keren Rowland, 20, who went missing after her car broke down on Parkes Way in Canberra in February 1971. She was found in the Fairbairn Pine Plantation three months later.

Dianne Pennacchio, 29, who went missing in Bungendore in September 1991 and was found dead two months later in Tallaganda State Forest, NSW, is also believed to have died at the hands of Milat.

The serial killer was also named a person of interest at an inquest into the disappearances of Leanne Goodall, 20, Robyn Hickie, 18, and Amanda Robinson, 14, missing in the Newcastle area from 1978 to 1979.

Others have linked him to the 1972 murder of hitchhikers Robin Hoinville-Bartram and Anita Cunningham. Ms Hoinville-Bartram's body was found under a bridge in Queensland in November that year while Ms Cunningham has never been found.



Finding the right beach to suit you this weekend

Premium Content Finding the right beach to suit you this weekend

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up for Kellys Beach, Elliott Heads, Moore Park...

BIG READ: The women at the forefront of our homeless crisis

Premium Content BIG READ: The women at the forefront of our homeless crisis

Gail Mole dreams of the community coming together

NAMED: Everyone expected to face court today

Premium Content NAMED: Everyone expected to face court today

49 people are listed to appear in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court today