A man has confessed to the infamous Australian murder of Scott Johnson

The Australian man has pleaded guilty to the murder of Scott Johnson in Sydney as an act of anti-gay hate back in 1988.

The victim was a mathematician who fell to his death from a Sydney cliff, in a crime that was originally dismissed by the police as a suicide.

In 2020, Scott White was charged with the murder of Scott Johnson, a Los Angeles born, 27-year-old.

Scott Johnson Murder
Source- Houston Chronicle, Victims brother Steve Johnson pictured above

Johnson’s body was located on December 8, 1988, at the base of North Head cliff, stripped of his clothing.

A pre-trial hearing took place in Sydney on Monday, where White repeatedly yelled that he was guilty of the crime, contrary to the previous denial.

The guilty plea was accepted by the Supreme Court judge on Thursday, dismissing lawyers attempts at objection.

The sentencing is set to take place on May 2 with the possible outcome being a sentence of life imprisonment.

Johnson, was an openly gay individual, living in Canberra and a doctoral student at Australian National University.

It was first concluded that he had taken his own life, despite his wallet being missing from his neatly folded clothing, found at the top of the cliff.

The original coronial inquest ruled in 1989 that White had taken his own life.

A second coroner stated in 2012 that he was unable to explain how the individual died.

Following this revelation, Johnson’s family sought a third inquest, and in 2017, State Coroner Michael Barnes ruled that Scott 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.”

On investigation, Barnes found that there were gangs of men that roamed Sydney looking for gay men to assault. This resulted in deaths and robberies.

NSW police said that Whites arrest shows hope for other cold-case killings that are yet to be solved and more specifically those of gay hate crime.

“I’m very, very hopeful that results like this reverberate through the community and we can get more information — that’s what we need, we need more information in order to pursue these cases,” assistant police commissioner Tony Crandell said.


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In 2018 a reward of 1 million dollars was offered for information and Johnson’s older brother Steve matched that reward offer in 2020.

Johnson’s brother spoke outside court following Whites guilty plea, “I think he deserves what he has coming to him…it’s a very sad, tragic thing that he did.”

Steve had always seen it inconceivable that his brother had jumped off the cliff, and following the doubled reward, White was arrested in his Sydney home.

Police say that the reward helped their breakthrough and would be provided to the informant.