HE WAS just three months off becoming an adult in the eyes of the law but that little window in time could save serial killer Ivan Milat's nephew from spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Mathew Milat was aged 17 and 9 months when he and his 18-year-old friend Cohen Klein terrorised, tortured and hacked classmate David Auchterlonie to death with an axe in 2010.
Their lengthy sentencing hearing has been playing out in a Sydney Supreme Court for the past two weeks.
On Tuesday, the court heard the age gap between the two convicted murderers could mean the difference between Milat being sentenced as a child, and likely given a release date, and Klein receiving a life sentence for committing the same offences as an adult.
This week, a handwritten letter of apology from Milat to the victim's family was tendered in court.
One line read "Since being detained I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I have done and pray that this is a bad dream..."
The family has maintained Milat should be given a life sentence.