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Australian Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter of Gay American in 1988

Australian Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter of Gay American in 1988

scott johnson and scott white

Scott White had previously pleaded guilty to the murder of Scott Johnson.

There’s finally some closure for the family of Scott Johnson, a gay American man who fell to his death 35 years ago in a popular Australian gay meeting place.

A coroner initially ruled that Johnson had killed himself, however, his family never stopped fighting for the truth to be found. In 2017, a new coroner’s report said that he “fell from the clifftop as a result of actual or threatened violence” by someone who “attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual.”

Now, Australian citizen Scott White has admitted his part in the death.

Investigators believe that the murder happened when White and Johnson had gone to the cliffs near Sydney, a popular gay hangout, after meeting at a nearby hotel. They think that at some point during the encounter, White panicked, and punched Johnson, causing him to fall to his death below.

White was arrested in 2020 after Scott Johnson’s brother offered a $1 million Australian reward. He pleaded not-guilty at the time.

White then pled guilty to the murder of Johnson back in January of 2022, surprising his lawyers and the courtroom. While his lawyers said that he often makes impulsive decisions when under stress and tried to withdraw his plea, the court initially refused to do so and sentenced him to 12 years and 7 months in prison.

However, three months ago, the conviction was overturned, as the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that White should have been allowed to reverse his plea at the time.

Today, White pleaded not guilty to murder, and guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The new plea comes after police intercepted a prison phone call between White and a relative in October of last year in which he confessed to striking Johnson at the top of the cliff.

“Reading the black and white of his confession, in which he states that he threw the first punch, which I imagine was the only punch, and my brother must have been very close to the cliff… makes me pretty angry,” Steve Johnson, the brother of Scott Johnson said after the plea.

White will return to court on June 6 to be sentenced.

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