March 10, 2020

Australia in 1988 Police said Suicide Various Coroner Findings The American Was Beaten and Thrown Down Clift

A $2 million reward is now on offer for information about the 1988 suspected gay-hate killing of Scott Johnson after his brother matched the reward announced by the NSW government in 2018.

It is the first time a victim's family has joined a police investigation with such an amount.

 Last Piture His Family had of Scott
 


Scott Johnson's death was determined in a third coronial inquest to have been the result of a gay-hate crime.
Mr Johnson's naked body was found at the base of a cliff near North Head on Sydney's northern beaches more than 30 years ago. His clothes were found neatly folded on the cliff top.

An extraordinary third coronial inquest into his death in 2017 found the young American mathematician died as a result of a gay-hate crime when he fell onto rocks in December 1988. It prompted a renewed investigation into his death alongside a $100,000 reward for information, a figure that was later increased tenfold.
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On Monday, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller joined Mr Johnson's brother Steve Johnson, who travelled from the US to announce that he and his family would match the government's reward, taking it to $2 million.

"We have never seen anything like this before, when a member of the community has come forward and joined the police force ... to help solve a terrible crime that happened in our town," Commissioner Fuller said. 

The 27-year-old American's body was found at the base of a 60-metre cliff at North Head on December 10, 1988.
 Scott Johnson, American in Sydney. Police found him at the edge of clift nicely folded and said 'suicide'. Americans who were  no firends of gays and knew that clift was a good stop for guys to sunbathe. Who beats them self up before jumping
of a clift? No one but police had no answer.
       
 

"We know there are people are out there with information and ... we haven't forgotten about Scott. It was my promise to Steve that we would leave no stone unturned."

Investigators say they are looking for two types of people: the person involved in the killing of Scott Johnson, and those informed.

At the time of Mr Johnson's death, police swiftly determined death by suicide, in an investigation Steve Johnson described as tantamount to a "brick wall".

"Not a single thing was done to investigate Scott's death. The scene was cleaned up without any photographs of the top of the cliff. His clothes were picked up [and] any DNA evidence ... notes or footprints or any of that was just left behind. So it was very frustrating," he said on Monday.

A coronial inquest in 1989 found Mr Johnson had died by suicide, while a second inquest in June 2012 returned an open finding.

It was only after the third inquest in 2017 that then-NSW coroner Michael Barnes found Mr Johnson had most likely been the victim of a "gay-hate attack".

"The evidence establishes ... there were gangs of men who habitually went to various locations around Sydney where they expected to find homosexual men with a view to assaulting them," Mr Barnes found.

The 2017 inquest heard from a number of male witnesses, including a succession of confessed or alleged gay bashers from the Narrabeen area.

One of the witnesses included a man who allegedly boasted about bashing an “American faggot” he and another man found masturbating at a beach near Manly in mid-December 1988. 
On Monday, Steve Johnson said that, despite his earlier criticisms, he had been greatly encouraged by the recent progress of the investigation because "everything has changed".

"I spent time with the investigative team ... in 2018. Not only did they understand the case very well, but they were also committed to solving it and this is quite a turnaround."

Commissioner Fuller said the police investigation of Mr Johnson's death was a reflection of "broken" community attitudes at the time that wrongly saw homosexuals as "second-class citizens". 

Scott Johnson died as a victim of a gay hate crime, third coronial inquest finds
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In June 2018, an extensive review of 88 suspicious deaths in Sydney between 1976 and 2000 revealed almost a third were the result of crimes involving suspected or confirmed gay-hate bias.

Mr Johnson's death was among them.

"We're not proud of our history in relation to some of those investigations," Commissioner Fuller said.

"We treat hate crime very differently today. We take action against people for those type of crimes."

He said a number of people had given evidence about the behaviour of gangs that had historically "trolled young men to bash".

"We know that they would have bragged about it. We also know that, as a result of the last [$1 million] reward, that more information came forward."

He said he hoped the additional $1 million would "shake the tree ... and bring Scott's murderer to justice".

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