A new book trails the hunt for ‘Backpacker Murderer’ Ivan Milat
A new book trails the hunt for ‘Backpacker Murderer’ Ivan Milat.
Last month marked 20 years since the day 50 police officers surrounded a southwestern Sydney home and arrested serial killer, Ivan Milat. Clive Small led the task force whose painstaking efforts ultimately sent Milat to prison for the murder of seven backpackers. His new book, Milat: Inside Australia’s Biggest Manhunt, offers rare insight into a monster and puts readers in the room for a look at one of the country’s most exacting bits of police work.
One of the challenges for the task force was that there just wasn’t the technology to coordinate the hunt for Milat. We ended up with something like 1.8 million separate pieces of information by the end of the inquiry. You could open a programme and type ‘Clive Small’ in it, but that couldn’t be searched on other computers. You had to look at every computer in the police force, essentially, to make connections.
And then there was the task of searching Belanglo State Forest. We searched an area of 25 sq km. After the first two bodies were found in 1992, we did a search and found no further bodies. Then 13 months later another body was found. By the time the third body was found it was clear that when we left the forest this time there would not be one part of the forest that hadn’t been searched.
When you eventually caught Milat and proved his guilt, he seemed compeltely unfazed. I first met Milat when he was arrested and he did two interviews. You’d ask a question and get a sarcastic answer: ‘Oh, you mean I’ve got to answer yes to all your questions?’ He gave this impression of, ‘You can’t prove it, I didn’t do it, and in half an hour I’m going home.’ He held that attitude till the end.
To this day, Milat has never admitted his guilt. When was the last time you saw him? It was about 2005, I was working at the Supermax jail in Goulburn and – you wouldn’t believe it – I bumped into him. He said: ‘Why do you say my sister was involved?’ And I said: ‘I never said your sister was involved, because I know you did them by yourself.’ And he responded: ‘Yeah, well, why did you say she was involved?’ It was the closest I’ve heard to an admission. Dhs50, from www.amazon.com.