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2009 : Ivan Milat cuts off his finger

On January 26, 2009, Ivan Milat, in quite a gruesome way, cut off his little finger of his left hand, as a protest against the High Court.

The following account is taken from the book, “Australia’s Most Murderous Prison – Behind the Walls of Goulburn Jail” :

The officer picked up the chunky envelope addressed to the High Court of Australia.

Bit heavy for a bit of paper — better have a look.

The officer slowly, carefully sliced open the package that Ivan Milat was attempting to send to Australia’s final court of appeal.

He shook over the envelope over a table, a blood-splattered tissue hit the desk. The officer, wearing protective gloves, slowly pulled away the tissue. One layer, another layer, a third. And there it was…A bloody finger inside a tissue.

Ivan Milat had cut off his finger and tried to mail it out of Supermax.

Frantic officers burst through the door and into Milat’s cell. The serial killer, was sitting on the edge of the bed.

At first he looked calm,’ an officer recalled.  ‘Even relaxed. But he wasn’t being tough or anything like that. He was so placid because he was about to pass out. He was turning white.

Milat pulled back the tissue, exposing a bloody stump. He was missing the little finger on his right hand…from the top knuckle up.

They get issued a BIC razor blade every week to shave. They have to hand the old one in before they get the new one,’ said a Goulburn Supermax full-timer. ‘The officer is supposed to check the old razor to make sure it is all there. The guys obviously didn’t check to see if Milat’s BIC still had the blade in it. They put it in the tub and just issued him with a new one.

Milat wasn’t showing great genius when he priced the steel from the shaver.

You just break the plastic surrounds of the BIC and you produce the blade. It’s easy to do. So he used the blade to hack into the finger, but he couldn’t get through it, not all the way. What he did next was just gruesome. He got to the bone with the blade and stalled. I’m not sure if it had become too blunt or had broken, but the razor couldn’t finish the job. So he broke the bone. Not sure how. Maybe he jammed it into a wall and stomped on it, maybe he just snapped it with his other hand, but he broke it. It was broken most of the way through, but not all the way through.

Enter a plastic picnic knife he had smuggled into the room…the kind designed to cut through a T-bone steak. ‘He used that to finish the bone,’ said the officer. ‘He sawed his through the rest.

He was nearly passed out when we got to the door. He was struggling big time. He had lost a heap of blood, but he must have drained it in the toilet or the shower because there was only a bit of blood in the room.‘ 

Milat was rushed to Goulburn Hospital. ‘We were told he hardly said a word when he went to the hospital. The blokes that were there told us he had a bit of a smirk on his face because, despite the pain, he was Ivan Milat.

Senior Assistant Superintendent Kevin Camberwell claimed Ivan chopped off his finger to escape: ‘He knew it was never going to get past security. All the mail coming in and out of there is screened. Of course it was found — and that is what he would have wanted. He would have been hoping he could escape while on escort to hospital.’ 

Another guard who worked closely with Ivan said the stunt had nothing to do with an impossible escape attempt.

It goes to show he is not completely insane because he buzzed up. That means he pressed the knock-up system [a prison intercom used by the inmates in case of emergency] to alert the officer that he was hurt. He was found before the letter. It was all for attention. He just wanted to have a break from the normal routine and go and look into the eyes of the public when they recognized who he was.

Ivan’s side of the story through letters written to his brother Bill and his nephew, Alistair.

2 February 2009 letter addressed to his brother, Bill Milat :

I don’t regret it, though it was a stupid act. A ridiculous thing to do, but in here acts like that are regarded as normal and really not as severe as some. I wonder if I will have enough time to prove my innocence as time files, but it takes a long time to get a reply from the authority-courts-government. That was a big factor in severing the finger off, to highlight the difficulties of a prisoner who wishes to appeal his case.

4 February 2009 letter addressed to his nephew, Alistair :

‘I had my good reasons to do what I did. The High Court has said that I could file for a special leave to appeal application against the 17th July 2008 decision of the Supreme Court, and tells me that is possible only if I comply with all the High Court rules, paperwork, typed up, copies, time limits, etc. So what are my chances in here, I’ve argued. Written letters, you name it — I’ve done it, and I’ve done everything just to appeal. The High Court doesn’t want to hear about my difficulties and stopped replying, so what was left?

Your mum said some media attention was raised over why I did it, and a lot of people are giving their answers. I’ve seen none of it; they had me buried out of the way. I hardly knew what day it was when they let me out, so now I am more isolated than before.

21 February 2009 letter addressed to his nephew, Alistair :

I never cut my finger off to go anywhere; I was surprised at them wheeling me into that hospital. It was my way to say how fucked the court system it.

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