The gay hate murder of Scott Johnson took a fresh turn on Monday, when the ex-wife of the man convicted of killing the American mathematician in 1988, revealed that he had bragged about bashing gay men.

Fifty-one-year-old Scott Phillip White was convicted in January, by the NSW Supreme Court, which is currently deciding about his sentencing.

Trigger Warning: This story discusses a gay hate murder, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

White’s ex-wife Helen was the one who alerted the police in 2019 about his involvement in the murder that remained unsolved for over three decades. 

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Helen told the court that she had twice asked her husband if he had murdered Johnson, first in 1988 and then again a decade later in 2008, reported the ABC.

‘Did You Do This?

Scott White Being Arrested. Image: NSW Police Twitter

Helen said that White had often told her and the couple’s six children about bashing gay men in the past. In 1988, after coming across a photograph of Johnson, Helen said she asked White if he was one of his victims.

“I remember asking him if this is one of the gay men he bashed?”

“He said ‘that girly looking p****r’,” Helen told the court, adding: “he quite often bragged about bashing ‘p*****rs’.”

Helen said that in 2008, she again asked White, “did you do this?”

White, according to Helen, replied, “the only good p****r is a dead p*****r”. She recalled that she again asked him: “So, you threw him off the cliff?”

White replied: “It’s not my fault the dumb f**k ran off the cliff.” Helen said, she responded: “Well it is, if you chased him.”

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Helen denied that she had come forward with the information after learning about the reward. White’s lawyers claimed that Helen had fabricated the evidence against her ex-husband. The legal team also claimed that White, who was 18 at the time of the murder, was himself gay and he was afraid his father would find out about his sexuality, the ABC said. 

‘White Deserves Life In Prison’

Scott Johnson. Images: ABC News / NSW Police

The court also heard from Johnson’s family, including his then partner of nine years Michael Noone. 

“Unless you’ve experienced it, there is no way anyone could understand the sheer horror of receiving a voicemail from police asking you to identify the body of a loved one,” Noone told the court. “No one can imagine what it was like to be shown his lifeless and very badly damaged body,” the ABC quoted Noone. 

“It’s an indelible image that is burnt into the brain … it’s  an excruciatingly grotesque spectre that I’ll be taking to my own grave.”  Noone said that he and Johnson had lived in the US and UK before moving to Australia. His parents had welcomed Johnson into their home when he stayed in Sydney and they had lost a son. 

“Suddenly, I was without the very person I needed most. Our dreams and our plans and our future died with him. He was everything to me and now he was gone,” Noone said.

One of Johnson’s sisters Terry addressed White and said he “deserved life in prison”. Johnson’s brother Steve said the delay in the case had added to the “family’s grief and loneliness”.  He said his brother had missed the “golden era of nerds” and the progress made across the world in LGBTQI rights. 

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The court will sentence White on Tuesday.

Gay Hate Crime

Victims of gay hate crimes in Sydney.

Twenty-seven-year-old Johnson’s murder was one of the unsolved cases during the spate of anti-gay and anti-trans hate crimes that took place in Sydney between 1970 and 2010.

American-born Sydney-based mathematician Johnson’s body was found on the morning of December 10, 1988 at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point, near Manly’s North Head on Sydney’s northern beaches.

The police initially concluded that Johnson had died by suicide and a second inquest in June 2012 returned an open finding. A third inquest in 2017 found that Johnson was murdered and his killing was a gay hate crime.

In 2018, NSW police announced a $ 1 million reward for information and in March 2020 Johnson’s brother Steve Johnson, who lives in the United States, matched the reward offered bringing the total reward to $2 million.

NSW homicide detectives arrested White in May 2020 and he was charged with the murder. White pleaded not guilty and faced trial. However, White shocked his legal team in January this year, when he declared in court: “Guilty. I’m guilty. Guilty.”

White’s lawyers attempted to reverse his guilty plea claiming he was under a lot of “stress” and “anxiety,” had an “intellectual disability” and was “distressed” prior to his court hearing.  Justice Wilson rejected the plea and convicted White for Johnson’s murder. In April 2022, the court dismissed a plea by his legal team sought to vacate the sentencing proceedings till White’s  appeal against his conviction was heard.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.





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