The brother of a man who died under suspicious circumstances 30 years ago at Sydney’s North Head, has doubled the police reward for new information about the death.
Scott Johnson, was a 27-year-old American-born mathematician whose naked body was found at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point in December 1988.
The death of Johnson was one of many violent gay-hate crimes that occurred in Sydney over the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Guardian reported that at its peak 20 men were assaulted each day with many going unreported or investigated due to unsympathetic elements in the police force and judiciary system.
Johnson’s death has been the subject to a number of inquests, and after the third was found to be a gay hate crime when it concluded he’d fallen off the cliff as a result of actual or threatened violence.
In 2018, the NSW Government announced a $1 million reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Johnson’s killer or killers.
Johnson’s brother, Steve, has doubled the reward by making a $1 million personal contribution, the first of its kind in NSW.
Steve Johnson flew to Australia from the United States to make the offer and to provide a personal plea for information.
“With a reward of up to $2 million on the table, I am hoping that Scott will finally get justice,” he said.
“Please, do it for Scott, do it for all gay men who were subject to hate crime, and now, do it for yourself.”
Steve Johnson said the progress police have made in recent times was encouraging.
“But there’s more to do — bullying and gay hate crimes continue in our communities,” he said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said he knows there are people with information who are yet to come forward and has promised Steve Johnson to leave no stone unturned.
“It’s no secret police offer rewards in hope they can motivate those people, and while the last increase proved somewhat beneficial for investigators, we’ve still got more work to do,” he said.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans, who leads Strike Force Welsford which was set up to investigate Scott Johnson’s murder, said police have fought long and hard to break through a wall of silence.
He said there are two potential groups with information — those who were involved and those they told.
Police Minister David Elliot said the Government was determined not to give up on the “offensive” crime that ended Scott Johnson’s life.
In his findings, coroner Michael Barnes highlighted the many reports of gangs committing gay hate assaults in the area where Scott Johnson was found.