SYDNEY — (01-13-22) — Australian man Scott White has pleaded guilty to the hate crime murder of American mathematician who fell from a Sydney cliff in 1988. At the time of the hate crime, police dismissed the case as a suicide.

Scott White was charged in 2020 for murder of 27 year-old Los Angeles native Scott Johnson, whose naked body was found at the base of North Head cliff on Dec. 8, 1988.

In what some are saying was a clear display of guilt and regret, Scott White yelled repeatedly in court during his pre-trial hearing in Sydney on Monday that he was guilty, having previously denied doing the hate crime.

A South Wales state Supreme Court judge on Thursday accepted White’s guilty plea, dismissing the objections of White’s lawyers.

Hate Crime Murder Victim Scott Johnson 1988

Hate Crime Murder Victim Scott Johnson 1988


Back in 1988, police had concluded that Scott Johnson, who was a doctoral student at Australian National University and lived in Canberra, had taken his own life. Despite the discovery that his wallet was missing from his clothes, which were neatly folded near the cliff top.

A coronial inquest ruled in 1989 that the openly gay man Scott Johnson had taken his own life, while a second coroner in 2012 could not explain how he died.

Scott Johnson’s family never believed that he took his own life and sought a third coronial inquest. In 2017, State Coroner Michael Barnes ruled that Johnson “fell from the cliff top as a result of actual or threatened violence by unidentified persons who attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual.”

Scott White is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2, 2022. He now faces life in prison.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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