Scott Phillip White, who was last year arrested for the gay bashing murder of visiting US mathematician Scott Johnson in 1988 in Sydney, wants the trial court to declare that evidence that the NSW Police has collected against him is inadmissible.

White has been granted a pre-trial hearing on the issue in October, reported AAP. Lawyers representing White argued that a considerable “body of evidence” gathered by New South Wales Police should be deemed inadmissible.

According to the AAP, White’s legal team will seek that key evidence previously used to build the case against him, be struck out, before the jury trial commences in June 2022.

If successful, the result will be felt most by Johnson’s family who were left impacted by his violent murder. White’s arrest in 2020 as a watershed moment for the investigation as well as for the spate of gay hate murders that occurred in Sydney between 1970 and 2010.

Arrest After 30 Years

White’s arrest in May 2020, came more than 30 years after Johnson’s naked body was found at the base of the cliffs at Blue Fish Point.

As part of the investigation across three decades, three inquests into the cause of Johnson’s death were undertaken. The first held in 1989, wrongfully concluded Johnson had committed suicide. Twenty-three years on, a second inquest in 2012 returned an open finding on the cause of death.

In 2017, the third inquest set the records straight, finding that Johnson’s death was neither suicide nor an open finding. He had died as the victim of a violent gay hate crime that formed part of a large chain of similarly motivate attacks over a number of years on Sydney’s North Shore.

A 2018 police review of 88 suspicious deaths between 1976 and 2000 revealed 27 men were likely murdered because of their sexuality, with cases peaking in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Gay Bashing Was A Sport

Despite the frequency of these attacks, rarely were they properly investigated by the police.  “Poofter bashing” as it was called was talked about like a sport.  Many perpetuators of these attacks will never face trial.

In May 2021, a bipartisan Parliamentary committee had recommended that the NSW Government should conduct a judicial inquiry to investigate the historical hate crimes in Sydney against the gay and transgender community.

In 2016, Johnson’s murder and the attacks on Sydney North shore were bought together in four-part SBS drama series Deep Water. The series is credited for binging new attention to these historic hate crimes.

NSW Police offered a $1 million reward for information that would solve the case.  Johnson’s brother Steve added $1 million and doubled the reward offered for information about the case.

Last week the court was also reportedly told of Steve’s intention to fly from the US where he lives, to Australia in order to attend the pre-trial hearing.

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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