From left to right : Michael, William, Shirley, Ivan, Mary and Alex holding Walter at their Moorebank home in 1954.

Ivan Robert Marko Milat, born on December 27, 1944, was the fifth of 14 children of Croatian-born Stjepan Marko “Steven” Milat (1902 – 1983) and his Australian wife, Margaret Elizabeth Piddleston (1920–2001).

An intelligent child dubbed the “professor” by a teacher, Milat was subjected to beatings by his father with a piece of four-by-two as he held him down with a boot in his back in the driveway of the Milat family home.

Milat began wagging school and after the age of about 14 never returned.

Known in his family as “Mac”, Ivan developed a gun obsession and began knocking off milk money from houses and committing burglaries.

He faced Liverpool Children’s Court in 1962 for his first offence, stealing in a dwelling, and was let off before being jailed for the first time just months later.

He turned 18 inside Mount Penang Juvenile Institution and, once freed, became a car thief.

Milat then became a road worker for the Department of Main Roads, a job that would take him across the highways of NSW and back.

1964 mugshot, aged 19.

Milat developed a reputation as a “scary bloke”, a big drinker and a cannabis smoker.

In 1971, he kidnapped two female hitchhikers and raped one in chillingly similar circumstances to the Belanglo abductions and boasted to his victims that he’d “done it before … a number of times”.

Two teenagers hitchhiking on the Hume Highway near Liverpool on the Easter weekend of 1971 accepted a lift with Milat who produced knives and a rope.

He drove them to a secluded field in the Southern Highlands, near Goulburn, and raped one after saying if neither girl would have sex with him he was going to kill them.

At his 1974 trial, Milat got off the rape charge and thereafter swore off alcohol and cannabis and became a workaholic and married a young teenage girl.

After the marriage broke down in 1989, the Belanglo backpacker murders began.

Date of arrest : 22 May 1994.

Nicknames : He was nicknamed Mac by his family.

Press nicknames : The Backpacker Killer, Ivan the Terrible.

Span of murders : 1989 – 1992.

Place of employment at the time of his arrest : Roads and Traffic Authority.