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Backpacker Serial Killer Ivan Milat Is Dead

Australia's most notorious murderer, Ivan Milat, has died in hospital aged 74.

The serial killer died in the hospital wing of Sydney's Long Bay prison at 4.07am on Sunday, Corrective Services NSW confirmed.

His exact cause of death has not been confirmed, but he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"All deaths in custody are subject to a coronial inquest, including deaths resulting from natural causes," a Corrective Services spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.

On Sunday, NSW Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said Milat "can rot in hell".

"Both the Commissioner and I were of the same opinion that he shouldn't be taking up a precious public hospital bed," Roberts said in a statement.

"As soon as he could be removed from the public hospital and sent back to Long Bay Prison, he was."

"He can rot in hell. He showed no remorse. He was sentenced to remain in jail for life, that sentence was carried out and he died in jail."

On October 16 he was moved from his prison cell to the Sydney Prince of Wales Hospital where he remained in a secure section under guard.

In May, Milat was transferred from his cell in Goulburn's Supermax prison to a Sydney hospital, after reports he had organ failure related to geriatric anorexia.

His family later confirmed to 10 News First that Milat had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus and stomach, and given only two weeks to live.

Ivan Milat in a wheelchair being transferred to Long Bay Jail hospital in May. Photo: 10 News

Milat was one of Australia's most notorious serial killers, convicted of the heinous murders of seven backers over a four-year period in the early 1990s.

Despite being handed seven life sentences when he was convicted in 1996, Milat never stopped maintaining he was innocent, but several appeals for his freedom were repeatedly turned down by courts.

READ MORE: These Were Ivan Milat's Victims: The Faces Of The Belanglo Backpacker Murders

READ MORE: How Much It's Cost To Keep Ivan Milat Behind Bars

Milat's nephew, Alistair Shipsey, believed his uncle was an innocent man and said hundreds of letters his family had received from Milat over his 23 years in prison were a testament to that.

Ivan Milat. Image: AAP

In an exclusive interview with 10 News First in May, Shipsey insisted his uncle was framed for the shooting and stabbing murders of seven backpackers, whose bodies were found in the Belanglo State Forest between 1989 and 1993.

"If you read all the letters, 24 years of letters, he’s passionate. That’s how I know he’s innocent.”

READ MORE: Two Weeks Left: Ivan Milat’s Nephew Says No Deathbed Confession

READ MORE: Ivan Milat Hospitalised For Possible Organ Failure

Ivan Milat's nephew Alistair Shipsey keeps handwritten letters from Milat in his Sydney home. PHOTO: 10 News First

Authorities had hoped that in his dying days, Milat might finally answer questions over his heinous crimes, that have gone unanswered for decades.

"I think the decent thing for him to do right now is to provide police with the answers to any question they still might have," NSW Police Minister David Elliott said in May.

READ MORE: How Ivan Milat's Surviving Victim Helped Put Him Behind Bars

In October, Milat's brother and sister-in-law spoke exclusively to 10 News First after visiting him in Prince of Wales and said they asked him directly if he would confess to the crimes.

"No, he is quite adamant that he has got nothing to confess. He said he absolutely had nothing to do with it whatsoever," his brother told 10 News First at the time.

ivan milat
An undated supplied file photo of serial backpacker murderer Ivan Milat. PHOTO: AAP

The backpacker murders were one of the most notorious crimes to rock Australi.

In a 2014 interview with Studio 10 former NSW Assistant Commissioner Clive Small who hunted down and caught Milat, described it as the "biggest, most complex manhunt in Australian history."

"The terror created by the offender really has stuck in the mind of the public in Australia and overseas," Small said at the time.

Small detailed the complex workings of their investigation at the time, which received more than 1.8 million pieces of information as evidence.

Small said that from the early stages of the investigation, detectives had received a number of tip-offs about the Milat family, including Ivan.

"They all started painting this picture of Ivan as being obsessed with firearms, regularly shooting estranged family," he said.

But Small said the real breakthrough came when the Paul Onions -- the man who was supposed to be Milat's eighth victim -- but miraculously escaped -- called the police hotline and was later able to identify Milat on abduction charges.

"We can arrest him and get him off the streets," Small said of the development to their investigation at the time.

He described Milat's home -- located during simultaneous raids on 11 properties to track the killer -- as being like "Aladdin's cave."

"It was a miracle moment, I don't know how many times during the day I said, 'I don't believe it.'"

Recalling his first meeting with Milat, Small described the serial killer as being obsessed with control.

Ivan Milat. Source: AAP Photos.

'You had this impression that he still thought he was in control," Small recalled.

"He had the impression that he would be going home in an hour or two, right up until the last minute.

"I actually think that for the first few days anyway, Ivan was actually enjoying the attention".

During more than two decades in prison, Milat signed all of his letters as “Ivan Innocent”, with a hand-drawn stick figure of a saint.