The man who admitted to killing American mathematician Scott Johnson by bluffing him off a cliff at a gay hangout in Sydney in 1988 does not deserve a pardon and could face the longest prison sentence, according to the victims. brother said Tuesday. Scott Phillip White, 52, appeared in the NSW Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to manslaughter. White pleaded guilty to murder last year, but changed his mind and the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Mr Johnson’s older brother, Steve Johnson, who is based in Boston, said Mr White had lost his family’s sympathy for recanting his murder confession. He and his wife Rosemary said: ‘I felt a kind of sympathy for his generosity. There is no room for sympathy today,” Steve Johnson said in a victim impact statement read in court. He told reporters after the hearing that overturning White’s conviction and jail term on appeal negated any gratitude felt by his family.
“So I hope the judge gives him the maximum possible sentence,” said Steve Johnson. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 25 years.
Johnson said White’s decision to flee the scene without calling the police prolonged the family’s grief and loss for decades. “He didn’t check on Scott. He didn’t ask for help. He didn’t tell anyone. He just let Scott die,” Johnson said. Rosemary Johnson said in her own statement that she called her brother-in-law a sweet, kind and gentle person. “You were loved, you were alone, your life was important, but you weren’t forgotten,” she said.
On December 10, 1988, in the heat of an altercation, White punched 27-year-old Scott Johnson, knocking him back and falling to his death on what were then called the North Head cliffs. Dangerous Blow was a hangout for gay people. The death of Los Angeles native Scott Johnson was initially ruled a suicide, but his family has called for further investigation. It took NSW police nearly 30 years to begin investigating his death as a homophobic hate crime suspect. Prosecutor Brett Hatfield may conclude that the re-sentencing judge does not have enough evidence that White was motivated to attack Johnson because of his sexuality.
admitted that Hatfield, however, had asked for a longer prison term, calling it a wanton attack on a vulnerable person who was naked in a remote area. “This is a serious example of manslaughter with a serious level of criminality,” Hatfield said. White’s attorney, Tim Game, appealed for leniency, citing his client’s cognitive and dysfunctional history at the time of the crime. “He had just come of age and his life was a mess and a terrible mess,” Game said. White will be sentenced on Thursday. He had been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for murder until his conviction was overturned.