WARNING: The following story contains language that may offend some readers.
The ex-wife of a man convicted of one of Sydney’s most infamous gay hate murders says he often bragged about cursing gay men.
- Scott Philip White pleaded guilty to murder, but has since attempted to withdraw
- Johnson’s siblings leave the US for Sydney to speak at the hearing
- Johnson’s sister told the court that Scott was a gentleman who “wouldn’t hurt the fly”.
Scott Philip White, 51, is being sentenced before the Supreme Court for the 1988 murder of American mathematician Scott Johnson in North Head, Sydney.
Johnson’s body was found under a rock near Blue Fish Point. He was 27 years old.
Police initially treated her death as a suicide, but after three coronation investigations and several public appeals, officials charged White with murder in 2020.
In January, White pleaded guilty during a pre-trial hearing, to the surprise of his lawyers.
White and his legal team have attempted to retract it, focusing on potential “cognitive impairment.”
White’s ex-wife Helen told the court Monday that he asked her twice whether she was responsible for Johnson’s death – first in 1988 and again around September 2008.
She said she saw an article about Johnson in a newspaper around 2008 and asked White “Did you do that?” To which he replied “The only good fool is a dead fool”.
She says that White told her “It’s not my fault that the dumb c**t ran off the cliff” and that she said “that is if you followed her”.
Ms White revealed that her ex-husband often bragged about cursing gay men in his youth, even telling his six children about his past.
In 1988 Ms. White saw a photograph of Johnson in a newspaper and asked her then-husband if he was responsible for the crime.
“He replied, ‘Oh, that charming looking idiot?’ … then we had a little argument,” she told the court.
Ms White eventually told police of her ex-husband’s involvement in Johnson’s death, writing an anonymous letter to a detective mentioned in a news story.
Several members of Johnson’s family read statements of victim impact in court today, all recalling the mathematician’s gentle and shy demeanor.
White, wearing prison greens, heard from the court dock and nodded occasionally.
Johnson’s then-partner Michael Noon recalled the “sheer fear” of calling the police to request the identification of the body of his “best friend.”
“No one can imagine what it would be like to be shown his lifeless and badly damaged body,” he said.
“It’s an indelible image that’s burned in the brain… It’s an excruciatingly bizarre spectator that I’ll take to my grave.”
Mr Noon lived with Johnson in the US and UK before they moved to start life in Australia, saying he was excited for both.
“Our dreams and plans died with him … I lost a partner and my mom and dad lost a son.”
Johnson’s older sister, Terry, spoke directly to White and asked why he wanted to harm his brother who “won’t hurt a fly” and said that he deserved life in prison.
“This disgusting man who killed Scott has been roaming free on this earth for the past 33 years,” he said.
Johnson’s other sister, Rebecca, broke down as she begged White to let this be the “final chapter”.
White, who will be sentenced for the crime on Tuesday, has already filed an appeal against the conviction.
Johnson’s brother Steve, who spent three decades campaigning for justice, became emotional as he addressed the court, adding to the “grief” he lives with.
He said that he once sneaked out of a ski shop for 30 minutes in a “weeping pile” when he was reminded of his brother and the actions made by his mother when he learned that his mother was dead. Will never forget “cry while crying”.
Steve Johnson told White that he appreciated his guilty plea but said the 33-year delay in his admission had added to the family’s “sadness and loneliness”.
He lamented the fact that his brother, a high-achieving mathematician, had missed out on a “golden age for nerds” and some progress for LGBTQI people around the world.
Steve Johnson hired a private investigator to prove his brother was dishonest and doubled the NSW government’s $1 million bounty to another $1 million in 2020.
Outside the court she told the media how important it was to be in her brother’s killer’s room.
“Being able to express myself on the court, being able to look her in the eye was really important,” he said.
“I had to tell him how my brother was, I had to tell him how it felt to hear that he was dead.”
Former NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has previously stated that Johnson’s murder was one of the toughest cases he had worked on and about his failures to investigate gay hate crimes in the ’70s and ’80s to the authorities. Shame”.
White’s legal team claimed that his ex-wife’s evidence was fabricated and should be reduced because of her client’s culpable intellectual and mental state, and the fact that he was 18 at the time of the crime.
His lawyer also revealed that White himself was gay and had long been afraid to find out about sexuality by his gay brother.