Australian police offer $1 million reward in Scott Johnson murder case
Police in Australia are offering a $1 million reward to anybody who can come forward with information about the gay hate murder of Scott Johnson.
Johnson was just 27-years-old when he was found dead at the base of a cliff in Sydney, Australia, in December 1988.
The death was initially ruled a suicide, however last year, the state coroner ruled that he was actually the victim of a gay hate crime.
It is thought that he might have been pushed to his death by attackers, or might have fallen while trying to escape.
The $1 million reward will be paid if somebody comes forward with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said it was “horrendous” to think that the people responsible for Johnson’s death were walking free, according to ABC News.
“If you know something, if you know who committed this crime, and if you know who was at the scene at the time, there is $1 million on the table to get to the bottom of the truth.”
Johnson’s death was a hate crime
There have already been two police investigations and three coronial inquest into Johnson’s hate crime murder.
Subsequent inquests found that police were reluctant to investigate crimes in the gay community in the 1980s, which led to Johnson’s murder initially being ruled a suicide.
Johnson’s brother Steve has not given up the fight to find his killers. He attended the police press conference yesterday, and asked people with information to come forward.
“For Scott’s sake, for the sake of all the other gay men who died, for the sake of our community, please tell us what you know.”
It is now just over a year since a coroner declared that Johnson’s death was the result of a homophobic hate crime.
Last November, state coroner Michael Barnes found that he “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.”
Johnson – who was originally from the US – had been in a relationship with an Australian music PhD student, and was applying for permanent residency in the country when he died.
He was a mathematician and was studying for a doctorate at the Australian National University at the time of his death.
The reward is an ‘incredible step’
Speaking last year, Johnson’s brother Steve said that his killers “are probably alive” and that their friends “know who they are.”
“I wish they would come forward,” he added, according to The Australian.
Speaking to The New York Times yesterday, Steve Johnson called the $1 million reward an “incredible step.”
“I’m very encouraged,” he said. “The million dollar reward is speaking to the community that the police are taking this seriously and they need people’s help.”
It is thought that Johnson’s hate crime murder was one of many that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s in Australia that were not investigated as murders at the time.