The NSW government is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to a conviction in the gay hate murder of Scott Johnson.
The reward increase was announced to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Johnson’s death on December 10, 1988.
Johnson’s body was found naked at the bottom of a 60-metre cliff at North Head, at a time when robberies, homophobic assaults and murders were rife in Sydney.
After a coronial inquest at the time ruled his death a suicide and a 2012 investigation inconclusive, a 2017 inquest declared Johnson’s death the result of a hate crime.
“I am of the view it is very unlikely Scott took his own life,” said coroner Michael Barnes at the time.
“I conclude it is very likely that gay hate crimes were committed at the relevant location at around the time Scott died,” Barnes said.
The case was referred to a special investigative team in September, who are now conducting inquiries as part of Strike Force Welsford.
“There are currently more than 240 NSW Government rewards on offer in NSW, and with today’s increase, seven of those are for $1million,” said NSW Minister for Police Troy Grant.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this reward and I hope it finally leads to the answers that Scott’s family have been seeking.”
Johnson’s death has also recently been a case study in the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes.
Fuller thanked the government for their support in increasing the reward and acknowledged the Johnson family’s tireless quest for justice.
“This case captured the attention of people around the world and has certainly stayed in the hearts and minds of the LGBTIQ community, and to keep the investigation progressing, we need people to talk to us,” Fuller said.
“Scott’s death is possibly one of the most challenging investigations I’ve seen – and it’s believed one of the greatest hindrances has been an unwillingness for witnesses to come forward.
“This reward gives us an opportunity to appeal to those who know what happened to Scott but may have been reluctant to talk to detectives.
“I don’t think a day would have gone by that Steve didn’t think about Scott and the life he missed out on – and every one of those days Steve has been fighting for justice,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“The Johnson family have waited 30 years for a resolution; there is no better time than now for the truth to come out.
“I hope that with a fresh appeal and $1million on the table, those with information get in touch with investigators and we can finally see justice for Scott.”
Steve Johnson said it’s “very likely more than one person was involved in the gay hate crime that ended my brother’s life.”
“Someone knows what happened to Scott, either because they were present or because they heard of what happened from others who were present.
“It is likely that those who were involved in Scott’s death would have bragged about it given the culture of gay hate amongst groups in Sydney at the time.
“It’s 30 years to the day since Scott’s death. I encourage anyone who has any information to come forward and provide it.
“Do this for Scott, do this for all gay men who were subject to gay hate, and now, do it for yourself.”