Relative of serial killer convicted for murdering friend with axe

Defence of man whose great-uncle killed British backpackers: "I was doing what my family does"
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The Independent Online

The great nephew of the Australian serial killer Ivan Milat was yesterday convicted of a brutal murder in the remote bushland south of Sydney where his relative killed seven young backpackers two decades earlier.

Matthew Milat, 18, and Cohen Klein, 19, pleaded guilty and were formally convicted for the murder of their friend David Auchterlonie, who was attacked with an axe in the Belanglo State Forest in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, in November 2010.

In documents tendered to the New South Wales Supreme Court, Matthew Milat explained in chilling detail that he was merely "doing what my family does". The two had lured Auchterlonie into isolated bushland with the promise of alcohol and cannabis.The judge was given a transcript of a mobile-phone recording in which Milat revealed: "We're going out to Belanglo and someone's going to die."

Deep in the forest, Milat produced an axe and stood over 17-year-old Auchterlonie for 10 minutes, warning him: "You move, I chop your head off." The axe used in the killing was also tendered to the court.

In a victim's impact statement, the murdered teenager's grandfather, also named David Auchterlonie, described the killers as "animals" who terrorised his grandson and did not deserve any mercy. He said he was "speechless" and "shocked into silence" when he heard the news.

"From that moment not a day has gone by when I didn't think about what could have been ... I ask myself why God allowed this senseless act to deprive me of my grandson," he said. "When I walk through David's old bedroom ... I think about what happened, the love I have for him, and the hatred I have for some animals who took him ... his so-called friends."

The victim's mother, Donna Locke, said: "I can't stop thinking about that dark, cold lonely night ... and what they did to him."

Other documents submitted during the sentencing hearing provided further dark insights into Milat's mental state around the time of the killing. "I am not fazed by blood or screams/nothing I do will haunt my dreams," he wrote in a poem. In another, he said: "Clouds roll over in light blue skies/like darkness in a killer's eyes."

Yesterday's hearing, which came nearly 16 years after Ivan Milat was convicted of killing seven young tourists in the early 1990s, was held in the same court building as the trial of the backpacker murderer.

Milat snr's reign of terror stunned Australians, and led to one of the country's biggest manhunts. Among his victims were two young British women, Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, who went missing in l992 after hitch-hiking from Sydney to Victoria.

Their bodies were found in the Belanglo State Forest several months later. Five other murdered backpackers, including three Germans, were discovered in the same area.

Matthew Milat, who is the grandson of one of the serial killer's brothers, has yet to be sentenced. The judge made a formal order that the teenager, who was a juvenile at the time of the murder, could be named. He and Klein were remanded in custody for sentencing.