Witnesses deny ‘gay bashing’ in investigation into gang ‘who killed gay men for sport’
Witnesses in an inquest against a gang who have been accused of killing gay men for sport in the 1980s have denied that they ever bragged about “poofter bashing”.
The court was told how the gang, the Narrabeen Skinheads, allegedly bragged about pursuing and assaulting an “American faggot”.
The American is presumed to be Scott Johnson, who’s body was found at the base of a cliff in Australia in December 1988.
Johnson is the subject of the third inquest into the allegations.
Police originally concluded that he had jumped off the cliff in a suicide attempt.
Johnson’s partner, Michael Noone, told the inquest that he originally did not believe that Johnson would have killed himself but has since come to believe that it may be the case.
A succession of men who either confessed or are alleged to have taken part in “gay bashing” are being questioned in the proceedings.
It is thought that as many as 88 men could have been murdered by attackers who were targeting people known or thought to be gay.
They have all been granted anonymity for the series of inquests.
A 45-year-old man who is one of the witnesses is said to have boasted about the attacks.
The man claimed that the 1988 gang did not “pursue” the American and said that the information was fabricated.
The man said that he never attacked homosexuals with the gang – who he described as “good boys”.
He added that he was not a skinhead and that his friend would “vouch” for him.
The man was questioned about a Grim Reaper tattoo that he had on his upper right arm – a symbol that the prosecution claimed had connotations violence against gay people.
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He agreed that the tattoo personified death but had little to do with a desire to kill gay men.
However, he did admit to having a “bad attitude” towards gay people during the time of the alleged attacks.
He said that this was probably due to the TV adverts warning about the dangers of AIDS that were aired on Australian TV during the 1980s – adverts that have since been criticised for creating a violent backlash against gay people.
The inquest has also heard how a separate man in the trial is reportedly known to have bragged about being with a Narrabeen skinhead when they attacked the “American”.
This same man is alleged to have beheaded a cat and put it in the freezer and placed his mother’s budgie in the microwave.
A different man in the trial recounted how in 1986 when he was 14 one of the skinhead came to him “in quite a state” as he was “crying, trembling” and told him that he thought he had killed someone.
The witness explained that he assumed he had killed a homosexual because of his reputations as a gay basher but was later told that he had just been pranked.
The prosecution questioned that this could have happened in 1988 around the time of the death of Scott Johnson but the witness insisted that his memory was correct.