Reporter: Tara Brown
Producer: David Alrich
Milat — just the name is enough to make you shudder.
Back in the early nineties, Ivan Milat stalked, tortured and killed seven young backpackers in the Belanglo State Forest just south of Sydney.
When he was finally locked up — never to be released — we thought we'd heard the last of that terrible name.
But there was another monster lurking in the Milat family.
Matthew Milat idolised his evil uncle and fantasised about taking a life.
Then, in a callous and premeditated crime in the very same forest that uncle Ivan butchered his victims, Matthew Milat committed cold blooded murder.
Now a last chilling postscript to this modern-day saga of brutality and horror.
TARA BROWN: Belanglo State Forest, in the Southern Highlands of NSW, is an isolated and creepy place - a graveyard - where serial killer Ivan Milat murdered and partially buried seven young backpackers in the 1990s.
MATTHEW: Do you want to see what I’m capable of?
TARA BROWN: And now it’s the scene of another violent death - 17-year-old David Auchterlonie - another young man viciously slain.
MATTHEW: Now you move, and I’ll chop your head off.
DAVID: He was on the happiest day of his life. Everything, everyone was a friend. Everything was going well. He had nothing to fear.
TARA BROWN: This is the first time David’s father, David Senior, has retraced his son’s final journey into Belanglo to see where he died at the hands of another evil Milat. Matthew Milat is the great-nephew of Ivan. And this is where it happened?
DAVID: Yeah. Right here.
TARA BROWN: Daylight in this dark place brings no comfort at all.
DAVID: When you look around, it’s just nothing here. No one would hear you scream.
TARA BROWN: This is a horrible place to die - so lonely and so cold - but when Ivan Milat was jailed for life for what he did here, it was hoped nothing like it would ever happen again. So who could guess that 14 years later there would be another brutal murder in this forest, and that once again the murderer would be a Milat? This Milat - Matthew - was just shy of 18 and he took one of his closest mates, David Auchterlonie, to Belanglo and murdered him with an axe in November 2010. How can you come back here?
DAVID: You have to know, you have to feel what your son felt, and to think why and how, what led up to this? Just - it’s horrible.
TARA BROWN: And there are no answers, really, are there? There are no justifiable answers?
DAVID: No, n-not for a choice of murder.
TARA BROWN: Perhaps the most chilling answer lies in a misplaced infatuation Matthew has with his great uncle Ivan. Matthew’s surname is actually Meuleman, but as a 14-year-old he changed it to Milat, to proudly promote his family connection with the backpacker murderer. What sort of impact do you think Ivan Milat had on Matthew Milat?
PAUL: Most of us get our identity to some extent as children and adolescents identifying with someone and trying to emulate them. I mean this is as it turned out a tragic choice. He chose his most famous relative, but his most famous relative was a serial killer.
TARA BROWN: Forensic psychiatrist, Prof. Paul Mullen, says this latest horror was calculated to shock - despite Matthew just being a toddler when Ivan Milat was convicted.
PAUL: I mean, the name Milat - I mean the fact the murder is committed in Belanglo State Forest - I mean this immediately makes one’s flesh creep.
TARA BROWN: Bargo and Tahmoor are the desolate, tiny towns close to Belanglo, where Matthew Milat and David Auchterlonie became friends. That one could go from mate to murderer has stunned the kids of this community.
KID: How many times have we sat at train stations like this just for hours, eh, waiting for trains?
TARA BROWN: They knew both well, and while they dearly miss David, affectionately known as Auchto, they now say they never trusted the young Matthew Milat. You guys must have liked Matt, to hang out with him?
KID: I didn’t like him.
TARA BROWN: You didn’t like him?
KID: I never liked him, or trusted him, ever.
TARA BROWN: Why’s that?
KID: Just the way he was saying - sometimes he used to sit there with a flick knife just flicking his knife and not saying a word. He was just weird like.
TARA BROWN: What did he tell you about being a Milat?
BOY: Well, he’d go off - we’d heard about his uncle, we heard his surname that many times, like he did brag about it too. Yeah, I - like he looked up to his uncle and he made that clear.
TARA BROWN: Matthew Milat was about to make it very clear just how much he wanted to be like his Uncle Ivan.
DAVID: Nothing was going to stop it. His pleas, his cries. I think of them the most.
TARA BROWN: Back in Belanglo, David is reliving his son’s final moments - recalling the horror of a planned and brutal murder.
DAVID: Obviously, he was unaware. He was blind-sided.
TARA BROWN: It was David’s 17th birthday
MATTHEW: Happy fuckin’ birthday, Auchto. 17, you made it!
TARA BROWN: And there were two others also in the car that night - Cohen Klein and Chase Day - all off to Belanglo to smoke drugs and help David celebrate. But it was a pretext - a murder plot devised by Milat and Klein. Half an hour later, David would be dead.
DAVID: He was so young. And he truly was a kid. He just never got to grow up.
MATTHEW: Hey Auchto, can you roll us a joint mate?
TARA BROWN: Sadly, David knows the gruesome details of his son’s murder - because incredibly, Klein and Milat chose to record it all on a mobile phone –
MATTHEW: Don’t you know how to roll a joint, birthday boy?
TARA BROWN: Evidence that would eventually help convict them. Milat heads to the boot, plays with his axe and psyches himself up, while Klein keeps the other two in the car until Milat gives the signal.
MATTHEW: Hey Auchto, you’re shit at rolling joints mate. Can you just grab the bong from the boot?
DAVID: Nah, you get it.
MATTHEW: Mate, I’m too cold. Just do it.
TARA BROWN: But before David can get to the boot, he’s ambushed by the axe-wielding Milat.
DAVID: He was struck in the upper torso with that medieval axe. You hear the thud of that. That, that I will remember forever.
TARA BROWN: Because of that harrowing phone recording we know this was the first blow of the vicious attack that would go on for another 10 minutes.
MATTHEW: You’re dead meat Auchto.
DAVID: Matt, please man, please man.
DAVID: To hear it live, and hear his pain, his anguish, his panic, his fear - as a dad it’s horrible because you just want to just reach through and grab him and pick him up and take him home. But you can’t. It’s got to play out and you’ve got to listen to it. And that hurts the most, being helpless.
MATTHEW: Don’t move. You move and I’ll kill you.
TARA BROWN: Why Milat so savagely attacked David we’ll never really know.
MATTHEW: Going around and telling people my business, you end up hurt.
TARA BROWN: He claimed David somehow wronged him but Professor Mullen says Milat just wanted to kill.
PAUL: I mean, why choose this young man? The performance was the performance of a killing - the victim seemed to be almost an irrelevance, who he was.
DAVID: Look, man, I give my word, okay? I wouldn’t!
MATTHEW: Yeah, well your word is fuckin’ shit.
TARA BROWN: And watching his performance from the car was Klein, urging him on, and Chase Day, who, at least once, pleaded for Klein to make Milat stop.
CHASE: Mate, don’t let him do it, that’s Auchto.
TARA BROWN: But chillingly, cold-heartedly, the taunting and the toying continued - with David begging for his life -
DAVID: Look, man I give you my word, I wouldn’t
MATTHEW: Auchto, I’ve had your word before, and it ain’t worth a pinch of cold shit.
TARA BROWN: - until the very end.
DAVID: The most horrible sound is the final blow - to hear a life extinguished - David’s groan - it’s a horrible sound, it really is.
TARA BROWN: Does the brutality of that murder shock you?
PAUL: Oh, all murders are brutal. What shocks me is the whole thing was I think scripted in advance, in his fantasies, and that is frightening to contemplate. I think it’s about having the audience, proving you did it. ‘I am a stone-cold killer, look at me.’
CHASE: I’m not touching it.
MATTHEW: Get out of the fuckin’ car and help me get him in the bush.
TARA BROWN: After they dumped David’s body, it is believed Milat, Klein and Chase Day went somewhere else in the forest to smoke dope before heading home. Some 21 hours after the gruesome murder, Chase, who has always maintained he was an unwitting, innocent bystander, went with his father to police to tell them what happened. He then brought them back here to show them David’s body.
TARA BROWN: I guess we have to accept our loved ones die, but we hope they do so without pain and without fear and with dignity, but your son was denied all of that.
DAVID: He was. And we never got to tell him how much we loved him and even in the morgue, I did, I wanted to kiss him.
TARA BROWN: On Friday, Matthew Milat was sentenced to a maximum 43 years in gaol, Cohen Klein, 32 years, for his part in this awful thrill-killing. And it was recognised that Chase Day, who was never on trial, had tried to stop the murder. In sentencing him the Judge said Milat is still a serious potential danger to the community. Rather than showing remorse he appeared to revel in the memory of the murder - even, as he awaited trial, he wrote poems boasting he was a cold-blooded killer. One gem goes ‘Click Clack, hear that? Stopping in the middle of the track, are you getting nervous in the back? Should be, you’re getting whacked.’ You may well ask, is 43 years long enough for someone like Matthew Milat?
PAUL: There’s no doubt that this young man was trying to present himself as a dangerous killer and he continues to do it. The poems that were written in prison after these events just shows a desperate need to make oneself appear powerful and significant when in fact you’re neither.
TARA BROWN: Down here in the Southern Highlands, not far from the forest, these friends count themselves as the lucky ones. One night, a month before David was murdered, Milat invited them to Belanglo. They said no.
KID: It could have been anybody that Matt took out there that night, that’s what it’s taught me. Don’t trust no-one.
TARA BROWN: You reckon it could have been any of you?
KID: Could’ve. Could’ve been anyone.
TARA BROWN: What? That he just wanted to kill someone?
KID: I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s it. He just wanted to do something brutal or something.
TARA BROWN: The only thing David Auchterlonie did wrong was befriend and trust Cohen Klein and Matthew Milat, never contemplating he’d become another victim in the violent history of the Belanglo State Forest. For to hear Matthew Milat boast about his killer uncle, Ivan Milat, was one thing - to believe he too would murder was unthinkable. You must hate Matthew Milat?
DAVID: Hate’s a word we try not to use. It’s odium, the odium of society, is what he deserves and he will get.