Former cop haunted by Milat investigations urges police to seek trauma support
Posted on 23 Mar. 2017
One of the lead investigators in the horrific Ivan Milat murders is still suffering 23 years on, experiencing graphic flashbacks and struggling with multiple mental illnesses.
While just the thought of discussing his experiences makes him anxious, he hopes other emergency services employees can be inspired to ask for help and ignore the 'stigma' around seeking support.
The man, who has asked to remain anonymous, has approached Slater and Gordon to help him recover Total and Permanent Disability compensation through his Superannuation fund after years of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, including suicidal thoughts.
The former Detective Senior Constable is still haunted by a series of horrific murders investigated during his career, including the seven committed by Ivan Milat between 1992 and 1994 and the Kings Cross Axe Murderer Rafael Gavranovic in 1997.
During the Milat investigations in Belanglo State Forest, the detective was tasked with digging for and recovering the remains of the seven bodies.
Milat was later convicted of seven murders, including five backpackers, and is presently serving seven life sentences with no opportunity for parole. Gavranovic was found guilty of killing a Czech tourist with a tomahawk on the corner of William and Dowling streets in Kings Cross. He later pleaded insanity and was sent to a psychiatric institution.
“I attended the crime scenes of the victims (of Milat) in Belanglo State Forest and had to escort some of the remains of victims to Sydney,’’ he said. “It’s always on my mind as to whether there are bodies still out there we don’t know about.
“When I drive around the south-west of Sydney, I frequently experience flashbacks of homicide and murder suicide crime scenes I attended, I recall the crime scenes from these investigations just like it was yesterday and they still haunt me every single time.”
After leaving the police force in 2001, the father of two worked in a bank for several years but was often reminded of the sheer horror of his experiences. He still relies on sleeping pills and has often turned to alcohol to get through days.
“My condition has deteriorated over time and I’ve become agoraphobic and suffer panic attacks,” he said. “I really don’t want to go anywhere, I don’t want to see friends and sometimes I’ll spend days in bed.”
He is a member of the Police Post Trauma Support Group and encourages other emergency service employees who are suffering or in need of assistance to come forward and seek trauma support despite the fact that many believed they would be cast out if they did.
“If we are able to get at least one other person then that would make me happy,” he said.
Slater and Gordon police compensation lawyer Erin Sellars said her client was clearly suffering as a result of his work and needed support to help him cope with the trauma he is still dealing with.
“Our dedicated emergency services are often confronted with horrific and traumatising situations in order to keep the general public safe,” Ms Sellars said.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or at lifeline.org.au, or beyondblue on 1300 224 636 or at beyondblue.org.au. For crisis assistance, call 000.