Sydney man admits gay hate murder of American 32 years ago

An Australian man has pleaded guilty to murdering an American mathematician who fell from a Sydney cliff in 1988 in a gay hate crime that was dismissed by police at the time as suicide

Via AP news wire
Thursday 13 January 2022 10:48
Australia Gay Hate
Australia Gay Hate

An Australian man has pleaded guilty to murdering an American mathematician who fell from a Sydney cliff in 1988 in a gay hate crime that was dismissed by police at the time as suicide.

Scott White was charged in 2020 with murdering 27-year-old Los Angeles-born Scott Johnson whose naked body was found at the base of North Head cliff on Dec. 8, 1988.

White yelled repeatedly in court during a pre-trial hearing in Sydney on Monday that he was guilty, having previously denied the crime.

A New South Wales state Supreme Court judge on Thursday accepted the guilty plea, dismissing the objections of White’s lawyers. White is to be sentenced on May 2.

He faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

Police had initially concluded that Johnson, who was a doctoral student at Australian National University and lived in Canberra, had taken his own life. This was despite the discovery that his wallet was missing from his clothes, which were neatly folded near the cliff top.

A coronial inquest — a court-like proceeding held after unusual deaths — ruled in 1989 that the openly gay man had taken his own life, while a second coroner in 2012 could not explain how he died.

Johnson’s family sought a third inquest, and State Coroner Michael Barnes ruled in 2017 that Johnson “fell from the cliff top as a result of actual or threatened violence by unidentified persons who attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual.”

Barnes found that gangs of men roamed various Sydney locations in search of gay men to assault, resulting in the deaths of some victims. Some people were also robbed.

A new police investigation offered a 1 million Australian dollar ($731,000) reward for information in 2018 and Johnson’s older brother, Boston IT entrepreneur Steve Johnson matched that reward offer in 2020.

“I think he deserves what he has coming to him,” Steve Johnson told reporters outside the court after White pleaded guilty.

“It’s a very sad, tragic thing that he did,” Johnson said.

White was arrested at his Sydney home two months after the reward was doubled. Police said at the time that the reward helped in their breakthrough and an unnamed informant would be eligible for the reward once White was convicted.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in