Banned Milat mag cover that cost $110k
It was the magazine cover that cost Who Weekly $110,000.
In 1994, the supermarket tabloid and its editor were convicted of contempt of court for publishing a front-page photograph of the man who had just been charged with the murder of seven hitchhikers whose bodies were found in the Belanglo State Forest.
The cover photograph of the June 13 edition, published June 6, depicted Ivan Milat singing karaoke at his Eagle Vale home on Christmas Eve the previous year with the headline, "Backpacker Serial Killings: The Accused".
"The private life of road worker Ivan Milat, the man charged with slaying seven hitchhikers, as told by his brother Wally," the caption read.
The photo appeared again in black-and-white inside the magazine, where another photo showed Milat being led away from his home by two detectives, his head covered by a coat, after being arrested the previous month.
The NSW Attorney-General charged publisher Time Inc and editor Thomas Moore with contempt of court and ordered the magazine be recalled and destroyed.
They were found guilty in September and in October the NSW Court of Appeal fined Who Weekly $100,000 plus costs and Moore a further $10,000, finding that the publication of Milat's photo had the tendency to interfere with the proper course of justice.
Solicitor-general Keith Mason, QC, argued in court that identification would be the main issue at the impending trial, with prosecutors expecting to call "witness A" - Paul Onions - who would identify Milat as the man who tried to kill him.
In handing out the hefty fines, the three justices who heard the case said that deterrence was an important factor. In a statement, reported by The Canberra Times, Moore said the decision represented the implementation of laws that were out of date.
Who Weekly would seek leave to appeal the decision "because this case raises larger issues about the role of free expression in Australian democracy, and by extension that of free press and the public's right to be informed", Moore said.
Time Inc's application seeking leave to appeal the decision was rejected by the High Court the following year.
While the magazine was recalled, a number were sold and can now be purchased as collector's items. Several copies are currently for sale on eBay ranging from $100 to $200.
Who Weekly republished the banned cover photo in August 1996, the month after Milat was found guilty in the NSW Supreme Court.
Milat, Australia's worst serial killer, died on Sunday aged 74 after a battle with oesophagus and stomach cancer.
Despite being convicted and sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, detectives feared his murder tally was much higher, with up to six more potential victims.