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Man finally charged with murder of gay student Scott Johnson, who was found naked at the bottom of a cliff in 1988

Lily Wakefield May 12, 2020
Gay man Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson. (Justice For Scott Facebook page)

A man has finally been charged with the murder of Scott Johnson, a US student who was found naked at the bottom of a cliff in Australia 32 years ago.

Johnson was a talented maths student, and had moved from the US to Sydney to be with his partner in 1986.

He had almost completed his PhD when tragically, in 1988, Johnson’s body was found naked at the bottom of a cliff in New South Wales.

His death was initially ruled a suicide, but after the tireless campaigning of his family, a 2018 coroner’s inquest ruled that he had likely died as a result of a gay hate crime.

In 2019, police offered a a $1 million reward to anyone who came forward with information that led to a prosecution, and this year Johnson’s brother Steve matched the reward, bringing the total offer to $2 million.

Now, 32 years after his death, an Australian man has finally been charged with Johnson’s murder.

According to the BBC, Scott Price, 49, was arrested at his home in Sydney on Tuesday, May 12. He was refused bail and will appear in court on Wednesday.

New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said it was a “career highlight” to phone Johnson’s brother to let him know that an arrest had been made after more than three decades.

Fuller added: “While we have a long way to go in the legal process, it must be acknowledged that if it wasn’t for the determination of the Johnson family… we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

It has been estimated that around 80 gay men were murdered by homophobic gangs, with many pushed off cliffs, in the late 1980s around Sydney.

Johnson’s brother Steve said: “I hope the family and friends of the other dozens of gay men who lost their lives find solace in what’s happened today.”

Previously, speaking on March 9, Steve Johnson explained why he was so determined to see justice for his brother Scott.

“We now live in a more tolerant and open society – particularly here and in the United States – where societies enable their LGBT+ communities to be their true selves, live safely and unlock their full potential,” he said.

“I wish Scott had been afforded the same opportunity, and every effort I put into helping find his killers is also to acknowledge that bullying and gay-hate crime will not be tolerated in our community.”

 

 

 

More: arrest, Australia, cold case, murder, New South Wales, Scott Johnson

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