By Claire Gordon • 14 January 2022 • 14:34
The body of Scott Johnson was found naked at the bottom of North Head cliffs in Sydney Australia. The area was a well-known gay cruising spot and at the time, his death was ruled as suicide. However, his family never believed or accepted this to be true.
At a pre-trial hearing this week Scott White surprised the court by pleading guilty to the 27-year-old’s hate crime murder. White, 50, was arrested and charged in 2020 and his lawyers have attempted to have the admission withdrawn, arguing that the man was not mentally fit.
But on Thursday, a Supreme Court judge rejected that motion, writing the plea was entered “in a loud clear voice, and in an emphatic and determined manner”.
“It was inconceivable to me that Scott went somewhere and jumped off a cliff,” his brother Steve told Radio 1 Newsbeat in 2018, when he was desperately campaigning for the truth behind his brother’s death.
In 2005 Steve says he became aware of inquests into similar deaths of gay men at Bondi Beach in Sydney – the moment when he says he “woke up” to what might have happened to his younger brother, as reported by the BBC.
The local police, however, showed little interest in returning to the death of Scott Johnson so Steve hired an investigator who looked into courts records and discovered entries relating to gangs who roamed the northern beaches in Sydney. These gangs were known to have committed assaults and hate crimes against gay men.
All these years later, Steve told ABC that he was grateful a trial could be avoided.
“We’re greatly relieved that the accused found it in his soul to confess and plead guilty and put an end to this, so I’m very happy about that,” he said from outside the court.
“I am thinking about my brother and that a lot of people cared about him to bring this result today.”
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