true crime

"A story of unfathomable cruelty." The incriminating photograph found in Ivan Milat's home.

Update: Ivan Milat, widely known as one of Australia’s worst serial killers, has died in prison, aged 74. Milat was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer in May 2019, and was briefly treated at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, before being returned to Long Bay Correctional Centre. He died in the medical wing of the prison on October 27.

Walking into the home of Ivan Milat has been described as coming across an “Aladdin’s cave of evidence”.

Detective Clive Small won’t ever forget the day he led teams of police onto Milat’s property in the early hours of May 22, 1994.

In his book Milat: Inside Australia’s biggest manhunt, he recalls the bulletproof vests under the uniforms of police dressed in black, as they circled the home of the man they believed to be responsible for the murder of seven people found buried in Belanglo State Forest.

Watch the trailer for Catching Milat. Post continues below. 

The lead negotiator with the State Protection Group, Detective Sergeant Wayne Gordon, phoned Milat, who believed the police raid was a prank pulled by a friend.


Gordon calmly explained it wasn’t.

Eventually Milat surrendered and was handcuffed, before being formally charged for the murder of Caroline Clarke, Joanne Walters, Simone Schmidl, Anja Habschied, Gabor Neugebauer, James Gibson and Deborah Everist.

While he was being questioned, investigators found “suspicious or incriminating material” in just about every room in his house.

There were guns and bullets that matched those used on the people found dead in Belanglo. There were postcards addressed to ‘Bill’ – a fake name Milat used on hitchhikers like Paul Onions who narrowly escaped in 1990.

Ivan Milat. Image: supplied.

Money from Indonesia was discovered rolled up in Milat's bedroom, even though he had never travelled there. Habschied and Neugebauer, however, had spent time in Indonesia before landing in Australia.

Tape matched that located near the German backpackers' bodies, and a green water bottle and pouch looked exactly like those belonging to Schmidl.

But it was a seemingly innocuous photo found inside an album on Milat's coffee table that struck investigators.

The image featured Milat's girlfriend at the time, Chalinder, standing on a beach in jeans and a jersey.

The jersey was predominantly white, with a green stripe across the middle, with the brand 'Benetton' printed on the front.

ivan milat
Caroline Clarke is on the left. Chalinder Hughes, Milat's girlfriend, is on the right.

It was an unusual jumper. One you wouldn't find in Australia in the early 90s. Mostly because it was only manufactured in Britain.

It was the very same jersey - the same colours, the same brand, and seemingly the same size - as one worn by Caroline Clarke, a British backpacker found dead in the Belanglo State Forest.

The photo of Chalinder was dated to 1992.

Clarke had disappeared in April of that same year.

When asked where Chalinder got the jersey, she told police Milat lent it to her when she was cold one day. She had no idea where he had got it.

This would be just a fragment of the evidence mounted against Milat that ultimately led to his conviction in 1996.