Ivan Milat

The Sole Survivor - Paul Onions.

On 25th January 1990, he set out early for the station and was soon standing on the side of the Hume highway in Liverpool waiting for a ride.

The heat was searing as he stood trying to flag down a suitable southbound vehicle. His only possessions were a small pack containing a Sony Walkman, a camera and several items of clothing. He walked south trying desperately to thumb a ride. Stopping at a small shopping centre, he bought a drink and was seriously contemplating returning to the hostel when a fit, well-muscled man approached him and asked, in a distinctive Australian accent, "You need a lift?"

Paul told him his destination and accepted his offer of a ride gladly. The two men climbed into the stranger's four-wheel-drive vehicle and headed south. The first thing Paul noticed about the man, apart from his muscular build, was his long "Zapata" styled moustache. They talked for a while and Paul introduced himself and the man told him his name was "Bill."

Pauls new found friend was full of questions:

"Where you from?"

"When are you due back?"

"Who knows you're here?"

"Whats your occupation?"

So many questions but "Bill" seemed friendly enough so Paul answered them. "Bill" told Paul that he worked on the roads, was from a Yugoslavian family, lived near Liverpool and was divorced. They drove for an hour and "Bill's" demeanor began to change. His language became more aggressive and critical. He became agitated and launched into a racist tirade about "gooks" and "pommies" and shortly after became morose and refused to talk.

By mid afternoon after leaving the southern town of Mittagong, Paul noticed that "Bill" was acting strangely, varying his speed and looking in the rear view mirror every few seconds. Paul, feeling tired and drained from the trip, began to feel uneasy. "Bill" leaned forward adjusting the radio and said, "I think I'll pull over and get some tapes from the back." As they pulled up on the side of the freeway, Paul looked down and noticed a tray full of tape cassettes in the front console between the seats.

As "Bill" got out, Paul decided to get out as well. "Get back in the car," "Bill" told him, his voice full of menace. Not wanting to alarm him any further, Paul complied. As soon as they got back in the car "Bill" reached under the driver's seat, pulled out a large black revolver and pointed it at Paul.

"This is a robbery," he said. Again he reached under the seat and produced a coil of rope. Paul, highly alarmed, tried to reason with "Bill."

"Whats going on? What are you doing?" he asked.

He was told in a firm but controlled manner, "Shut up and put your seat belt back on." Paul, scared out of his wits, started to obey but instead grabbed for the door handle and leapt to the ground. Paul ran away from the car hearing the words, "Stop or I'll shoot," from behind him.

Panicking, he ran into the oncoming traffic causing cars to swerve alarmingly trying to avoid this "madman" on the road. Briefly he looked back expecting to see "Bill" chasing him. Instead, he saw him standing casually by his vehicle grinning. "Get back here, you," he called. Paul managed to flag down a van. As it slowed, he ran to the grass dividing strip in the middle of the highway. "Bill" lunged at him from behind, tackling him to the ground. Paul managed to break free and ran to the van and threw himself in front of it. The driver, Joanne Berry, a local resident, slammed on the brakes and before she could protest Paul leapt inside the van screaming, "He's got a gun, help me!"

Joanne, against her better judgement, drove away. In the car were her sister and four children. She feared for their safety and was about to ask him to get out. She looked into his face and seeing his look of terror, decided to take him to the nearest police station which was in the opposite direction. As she turned the van around, she noticed the other man running back to his car. He looked like he was carrying something. Anxious to put some distance between them, she accelerated rapidly.

When they reached Mittagong police station, it was closed. They drove on to the next town, Bowral. Paul related his story to Constable Janet Nicholson at the front desk, describing his attacker, the vehicle and the pack he had left behind. He detailed its contents including his passport and return ticket to England. After filling out a detailed report, Constable Nicholson circulated the mans description and the details of his vehicle via radio and advised Paul to return to the hostel. He explained his financial predicament and was given twenty dollars. She explained to him that without a registration number they had very little chance of locating the suspect vehicle. He went to the British High Commission when he returned to Sydney, to replace his passport and to borrow additional funds. He got the passport, but no cash. A woman waiting behind him felt sorry for him and gave him twenty dollars. He was amazed at her generosity.

Weeks later, after deciding to stay in Australia, he found a well paying job. His girlfriend arrived from England shortly after and they traveled around the north of Australia for a few weeks, then left for home. After arriving home, Paul attempted to settle back into a normal life but over the next year had trouble sleeping and developed a string of mysterious illnesses.

Several years later, Paul learned of the discovery of the bodies near where he was attacked. The thought chilled him to the bone as he relived the incident in his mind.

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