Sydney man admits pushing homosexual American off a cliff in 1988


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A person informed police he killed American mathematician Scott Johnson in 1988 by pushing the 27-year-old off a Sydney cliff in what prosecutors describe as a homosexual hate crime, a court docket heard on Monday.

Scott White, 51, appeared within the New South Wales state Supreme Court docket for a sentencing listening to after he pleaded responsible in January to the homicide of the Los Angeles-born Canberra resident, whose demise on the base of a North Head cliff was initially dismissed by police as suicide.

White can be sentenced by Justice Helen Wilson on Tuesday. He faces a possible sentence of life in jail.


“I pushed a bloke. He went over the edge,” White mentioned in recorded police interview in 2020 that was performed in court docket.

White mentioned within the interview he lied when he had earlier informed police that he had tried to seize Johnson and stop his deadly fall.

A coroner dominated in 2017 that Johnson “fell from the clifftop as a result of actual or threatened violence by unidentified persons who attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual.”

Scott Johnson's family, brother Steve Johnson, and, from left, sisters Terry and Rebecca, and Steve's wife Rosemarie arrives at the Supreme Court in Sydney, Monday, May 2, 2022.

Scott Johnson’s household, brother Steve Johnson, and, from left, sisters Terry and Rebecca, and Steve’s spouse Rosemarie arrives on the Supreme Court docket in Sydney, Monday, Might 2, 2022.
(AP Picture/Rick Rycroft)

The coroner additionally discovered that gangs of males roamed numerous Sydney areas seeking homosexual males to assault, ensuing within the deaths of some victims. Some individuals had been additionally robbed.

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A coroner had dominated in 1989 that the brazenly homosexual man had taken his personal life, whereas a second coroner in 2012 couldn’t clarify how he died.

His Boston-based brother Steve Johnson maintained strain for additional investigation and supplied his personal reward of 1 million Australian {dollars} ($704,000) for data. White was charged in 2020 and police say the reward will probably be collected.


White’s former spouse Helen White informed the court docket that her then-husband “bragged” to their kids of beating homosexual males on the clifftop well-known for homosexual meetups.

Helen White mentioned she learn a newspaper report in 2008 about Johnson’s demise and requested her husband if he was accountable.

“It’s not my fault,” Scott White allegedly replied. “The dumb (expletive) ran off the cliff.”

“I said, ‘It is if you chased him,’” Helen White informed the court docket. She mentioned her husband didn’t reply.

Steve Johnson, brother of U.S. murder victim Scott Johnson, hugs his wife Rosemarie as they arrive at the Supreme Court in Sydney, Monday, May 2, 2022.

Steve Johnson, brother of U.S. homicide sufferer Scott Johnson, hugs his spouse Rosemarie as they arrive on the Supreme Court docket in Sydney, Monday, Might 2, 2022.
(AP Picture/Rick Rycroft)

Below cross-examination, Helen White denied she had been conscious of a AU$1 million reward for data on Johnson’s homicide when she reported her former husband to police in 2019. She mentioned she solely turned conscious of a reward when the sufferer’s brother, Steve Johnson, doubled the sum in 2020.

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Steve Johnson mentioned in his sufferer affect assertion that, “With a vicious push, Mr. White took Scott and he vanished.”

“This man (Scott Johnson) who once told me he could never hurt someone even in self-defense died in terror,” the brother added.

Steve Johnson mentioned he appreciated White’s responsible plea.

“If he had turned himself in after his violent action, I would have had a little more sympathy. If he had grasped Scott’s hand and pulled him to safety, I would owe him everlasting gratitude,” the brother mentioned, his voice choked with emotion.

Scott Johnson’s sisters Terry and Rebecca Johnson, his accomplice Michael Noone and Steve Johnson’s spouse Rosemarie Johnson additionally gave sufferer affect statements.

Rosemarie Johnson described the preliminary police failure to analyze Scott Johnson’s demise as “indefensible and inhumane.”

Steve Johnson and his wife Rosemarie arrive at the Supreme Court in Sydney, Monday, May 2, 2022, for a sentencing hearing in the murder of Scott Johnson, Steve's brother.

Steve Johnson and his spouse Rosemarie arrive on the Supreme Court docket in Sydney, Monday, Might 2, 2022, for a sentencing listening to within the homicide of Scott Johnson, Steve’s brother.
(AP Picture/Rick Rycroft)

Rebecca Johnson, a youthful sister, mentioned the police report of suicide “made no sense.”

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“How could a community fail so spectacularly that they created boys capable of such horror?” she requested, referring to media experiences of homosexual beatings in Sydney being described as a sport.

Prosecutor Brett Hatfield mentioned the exact particulars of the homicide weren’t identified and that White’s accounts had assorted.

White had met Johnson in a close-by bar in suburban Manly and Johnson had stripped bare on the clifftop earlier than he died, Hatfield mentioned. He mentioned the gravity of the homicide was considerably elevated as a result of it was motivated by the sufferer’s sexuality.

White’s lawyer Belinda Rigg mentioned her consumer was homosexual and had been involved that his homophobic brother would discover out.

In January, White yelled repeatedly in court docket throughout a pre-trial listening to that he was responsible, having beforehand denied the crime.

His legal professionals will attraction that plea within the Court docket of Prison Appeals and hope he can be acquitted at trial.

Scott Johnson was a doctoral scholar at Australian Nationwide College and lived in Canberra. He was staying at Noone’s dad and mom’ Sydney residence when he died.


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