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Hunger strikes, self-harm and a severed finger: What Ivan Milat's life was like in prison.

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.

In May, Australia’s most notorious serial killer, Ivan Milat, was transferred from NSW’s highest security prison Goulburn Correctional Centre to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

The 74-year-old – who murdered seven backpackers whose bodies were found in makeshift graves in NSW’s Belanglo State Forest in the 1990s – was being held in a secure annex of the hospital where inmates are treated.

It was earlier reported that Milat was being treated for health problems connected to extreme weight loss. A source close to the Milat family told ABC News that Milat recently lost 20 kilograms and is being assessed for potential organ failure linked to geriatric anorexia.

Ivan Milat victims
Ivan Milat murdered seven backpackers whose bodies were found in NSW's Belanglo State Forest in the 1990s.  

According to Corrective Services commissioner Peter Severin, the transfer of Milat to the Prince of Wales Hospital was done in the "most secure and safe way possible".

He will wear at least one form of restraint – handcuff or ankle cuffs – during medical treatment, subject to medical requirements.


It's not the first time Ivan Milat has been transferred to hospital from prison for medical treatment.

In 2009, Milat stood above the small basin in his prison cell and cut off his pinkie finger with a plastic knife.

The serial killer, who was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, put the severed finger into an envelope, which he planned to send to the High Court of Australia.

Before long, however, Milat was forced to call the prison officers for help.

Milat was taken to Goulburn Base Hospital, where medical staff were unable to reattach Milat's little finger.

The next day, Milat was back in his prison cell with a bandaged hand.

"It's the work of a desperate man and Ivan Milat is in the top echelon of desperate people," John Dunthorne, the Corrective Services' southwest region assistant commissioner said at the time, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

In 2001, Milat injured himself in prison once again.

In February 2001, Milat tried to inflict self-harm when he swallowed three disposable razor blades, staples and other metal objects.

ivan milat
Ivan Milat was sentenced to life in prison in 1996.

Later that same year, he swallowed a spring from the toilet in his prison cell.

At the time, Milat was transported to hospital once again for treatment.

In 2011, Milat rapidly lost 25kg in a hunger strike over a PlayStation.

When his request for a PlayStation console was denied, the inmate refused all his meals.

In just days, he dropped from 85kg to 60kg before he gave up on the strike.


"There's no inmate on my watch who would ever get anything close to a PlayStation, particularly Australia's worst serial killer," Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham told The Sunday Telegraph at the time.

"I knew he'd start eating again because he likes his food too much. He can stage as many protests as he likes, but there'd be no point if he got one because he needs two hands to use it."

In 1996, Ivan Milat was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences for his crimes.

The Milat family has become infamous in recent years after Milat’s great nephew Matthew Milat and another man, Cohen Klein (both 19 at the time), were sentenced to 43 years and 32 years in prison respectively for murdering 17-year-old David Auchterlonie on his birthday with an axe in the same forest where Milat buried his victims.

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