Man accused of Scott Johnson murder to face court next week

scott johnson nsw police arrest gay hate murder crime
Photos: Supplied, NSW Police

The Sydney man charged with the 1988 murder of gay man Scott Johnson will face court next Tuesday (September 8).

Johnson, an American national, was found dead in Sydney at the base of a cliff near Manly’s North Head on December 10, 1988.


An inquest found the 27-year-old mathmetician and PhD student died by suicide.

But Scott’s brother Steve never accepted that finding. He campaigned for years to have Scott Johnson’s death investigated as a gay hate crime.

On May 12, 2020, police arrested Scott Phillip White, 49, at his home in Lane Cove, on Sydney’s lower north shore. Police later charged the man with murder.

White has not entered a plea and will appear in court on September 8, the ABC reported.

Steve spoke on the ABC’s Australian Story program on Monday night about his decades-long fight for the truth about his brother’s death.

“Finally, I’m going to have some answers,” he said.

“There’s no way to describe what that felt like. After 31-and-a-half years, they’ve apprehended the person they believe killed my brother.”

Steve said at least 10 other families had contacted him, believing their gay sons or brothers had suffered similar violence in Sydney.

“I’m really hoping this opens the door to some of the other men who have yet to receive justice,” he said.

“I can’t imagine that all or most of them will be solved. But the police should pay attention to all of them.”

Police could have solved Scott Johnson case sooner

Former NSW Deputy Coroner Jacqueline Milledge said police could have solved the Scott Johnson case sooner if not for the suicide finding.

“If Scott Johnson’s death had been regarded as it should have been, police may have made some connection. They may have seen a pattern,” she told the ABC.


“It may have led to a very earlier resolve than now, some 30 years later.”

Numerous other suspected gay hate deaths in New South Wales remain unsolved.

In some of the cases, NSW Police have offered rewards for new information.

Anyone with information on unsolved crimes can contact Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000 or online.

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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