Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ivan Milat: The Last Ride


While in prison, Ivan Milat turned to self-mutilation in an attempt to jumpstart his appeal to the High Court in Sydney. He hoped that by swallowing razor blades, staples and a spring from a toilet mechanism, and periodically starving himself, he would get the judges attention and maybe get the process moving a little faster. However, Ivans desperate ploy failed to work. In July 2001, Judge William Gummow refused Milats appeal, stating that there is no reason to doubt the correctness of the decision by the New South Walse Criminal Court of Appeal, the AP Worldstream reported.

Ivan Milat in prison, recent photo
Ivan Milat in prison, recent photo

Many, especially the victims families, were relieved by the courts decision because it would ensure that Ivan would spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. There was little doubt that if he were ever released early he would likely kill again and again. Of course, Ivan denies that he is capable of ever doing such a thing and continues to profess his innocence in the seven murders for which he was earlier convicted. 

Despite Ivans declarations, investigators have tried to link him to a further six disappearances of young women between 1978 and 1980. All of the women are thought to be dead, even though none of their bodies have ever been found. At the time of the girls disappearances, Ivan allegedly worked or lived in close proximity to where they were last seen. Ivans murderous record has lead to his being suspected in their probable murders, although there is no evidence directly linking him to any of the cases.

Ivan Milat as he looked around the time of the girls' disappearances
Ivan Milat as he looked around the time of the girls' disappearances

Ivan was ordered to give evidence at an inquest in the summer of 2001 into three of the girls disappearances.  During the inquiry, he was questioned about Leanne Goodall, 20, Robyn Hickie, 17, and Amanda Robinson, 14, all of whom went missing from New South Wales and Newcastle in 1978 and 1979.According to an article by Tony Larner in the Sunday Mercury, detectives re-opened the files on the three missing women after the discovery of a female jawbone on a Newcastle beach in March 1998, which was, incidentally, not linked to either woman. None-the-less, Ivan worked with a road crew just minutes from where two of the women were last seen. During the line of questioning, Ivan looked directly at the families of the girls and firmly stated that he had nothing to do with their disappearance, Denise McNamara said in an AAP General News article. Based on a lack of evidence, he has not been formally charged.

During another inquiry in 2003, Ivan was questioned into the disappearances of two 20 year-old nurses, Gillian Jameson and Deborah Balkan, who were last seen leaving a hotel with a man in dirty work clothes, the APP General News reported in December 2003. The article stated that at the time, Ivan was working at the Department of Main Roads, (now the RTA) less than two kilometers from the hotel. Ivan flatly denied having anything to do with the women and the investigation against him was stalled, due to a lack of evidence.

In 2005, he was questioned about another girl who went missing while hitchhiking home in January 1980, named Anette Briffa, 18. She never made it home and was thought murdered. It is uncertain if Ivan was in the area at the time she went missing, but because her case matched those he was previously convicted of, he could never be totally eliminated as a suspect, Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich was quoted saying in a January 2005 AAP article.

The reality is, there is a chance that Ivan could have murdered more women than those for which he was convicted. However, unless he confesses, no one will ever know the true number of victims attributed to him. Thus, investigators are simply left to guess, hoping to one day strike it lucky and close one of the many unsolved cases that haunt the region.

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