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Ivan Milat’s Younger Years

These people like Milat are consummate actors,” forensic psychiatrist Rod Milton, who advised Task Force Air during their 20-month hunt for the killer, said. They “present themselves as loving and kind and nice. It’s very interesting to think that some of these serial killers’ families, when they find out, sever all connections. Others closes ranks.” By and large, Milat’s family has thus far stood by him, and so has his former girlfriend. 

Actor he was. Through his sheer energy and cowboy charm, Milat exerted a certain charisma that captivated and bullied those close to him and, like the distractions of a good magician, served to veil evil impulses that he came to act on with real people. Ivan Robert Marko Milat was a late Christmas present for Croatian immigrant construction worker Stephen Milat and his Australian bride, Margaret.

Born December 27, 1944, he began life in a three-bedroom home in Junction Road, Liverpool, with his older sister, Olga, and brothers Alexander and Boris. In time, the burgeoning Milat clan (10 boys and 4 girls) would move to a larger house in working-class Guildford, where they jostled for space in cluttered bedrooms and for food at the dinner table. 

Dad used to work seven days a week,” recalls Wally Milat, “that’s why as soon as we were able to leave school we had to leave and start going to work. He couldn’t afford to feed us all. We did it tough but it was just like everybody else — there were bigger families than us.

Wally remembers the crowded home fondly. “We were sleeping in triple bunks. Growing up used to be a buzz. We’d all be together for Christmas — very happy.” But George Milat — nine years Ivan’s junior, recalls a different household — one dominated by a violent older brother. “To me Ivan was bloody cranky,” George told Seven’s Neil Mercer. “I did not get on with him. He treated some of us quite badly and had a go at us. He’d belt you one or bash you one.

Psychiatrist Milton says Milat learned to dominate others at home. “A large family like Milat’s is often short on affection because the parents just don’t have enough to go around,” he says. “In big families, you don’t get affection and you get dominated — so Ivan was the dominating one.

At Liverpool’s Patrician Brothers High School, though, Ivan generally stayed out of trouble who played the compulsory sports — cricket and football — and left school at 15 to obey his father’s edict to find work.

In the late 60s Milat had his first encounter with death when his youngest sister, Margaret, was killed when a car driven by Wally (George was also a passenger) crashed head on with another car near the family home. “He took it rough but he helped everyone get through it,” recalls Wally. “Ivan was good in keeping things together.

In the early 70s, Ivan with his interest in fitness and bodybuilding — despite his love of junk food (fish and chips, hamburgers, chiko rolls, dims sims,… — was regarded as the tough guy of the family; all of the brothers were in firm agreement about that. He would take George out to the back yard and teach him how to fight. He lived by example, always doing his push-ups and weight training, keeping himself really fit, and he was all for giving someone a hiding if they deserved it. But he always told his brothers that they had to stop before a fight went too far. ‘If you want a helping hand bashing someone, I’ll help you if I can,’ Ivan was to often tell George, ‘but don’t expect me to fight all your battles for you.

Ivan constantly emphasized the need for George to be able to look after himself.  Those who knew Ivan realized that he didn’t want his younger brother to become aggressive — he just knew how tough things could be, and wanted George to be able to stay on top of a situation.

Sources : Who Weekly, August 5, 1996 and Highway to Nowhere by Richard Shears.

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