1997,  Arrest,  Ivan Milat,  Newspapers,  Shirley Milat

Interview with Shirley Milat, May 1997

Following Ivan Milat’s and other prisoner, George Savvas’ planned jail break, Savvas was found dead in Maitland jail on May 18, 1997. Ivan was moved to a segregated cell at Long Bay jail and was denied all visitors.

I’m not allowed to see Ivan and I don’t know at the moment whether or not my brother is safe. One man is already dead and I fear they want another dead,Shirley Milat said.

Milat and Savvas planned their escape the week before but the prison guards were tipped off.

Shirley Milat denied rumors her family was involved in the escape plan, “nobody in our family was involved in any escape attempt. I don’t believe there was one. We know there’s very good security up there. You go through half a dozen doors, they take your thumb print and they’ve got monitors on you the whole time. They’re saying all these other people were involved. Why haven’t these people been arrested? There have been no arrest and…no police have talked to me, or any other members of my family, about it.

Shirley Milat is furious she has been refused access to her brother. “I want to know why I can’t see him. I was very close to my brother and I do not want to see him end up like George Savvas.

Shirley also revealed fears she had held for Ivan’s safety at Campbelltown Police Station in the hours after his arrest in 1994. “They took me upstairs to see him that night and on the way up they kept telling me he was very suicidal and they were worried he was going to kill himself. I said, ‘What reason would he have for committing suicide?’ And they just said, ‘look, all we know is that he’s talking suicide.’ I said, ‘I’ll go immediately out to see the press if anything happens to him.’ I told Ivan what they’d said. He was totally shocked and frightened.

Shirley and Walter Milat (Ivan’s younger brother) also said the escape claim was designed to further weaken their brother’s chances of appealing against his conviction. Both maintain he is not responsible for the serial killings.

I wasn’t home when the police came to the house,” she said of the highly publicized raid on the neat, brick home at Eagle Vale she shared with Ivan. “I had no idea what was going on until I came up the street about 7.20 am and saw this scene — police and press everywhere.” 

When she tried to enter her house she was “physically restrained” by several officers.

They refused to tell me what was going on. When I saw them going into my bedroom, I just broke free and ran inside. They said they were arresting my brother for armed robbery. Just before they took Ivan away, he told me he had $4,500 beside his bed, in his bedside cabinet. I asked the police if they’d taken it, they said ’No’.

Mrs Milat searched the room but could not find the cash, which she said Ivan had withdrawn to buy their mother a refrigerator.

I knew that Ivan had the money. I made a lot of noise about it and it turned up later at the police station with some of Ivan’s other goods. They’d tipped off all the media about the raids so you had TV footage that night with all these backpacks lined up against our fence. It was outrageous. Of every single thing they took out of the house, every photograph I’ve ever owned, I got back a toaster griller, one of pair track shoes, Ivan’s sheets and a Doona.” – The Sydney Morning Herald, May 25, 1997

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