Man pushed off cliff in 1988 for being gay

Possible hate crime solved after several decades

Dani Hendrix
4 min readMay 15, 2022


Scott Johnson was standing near a cliff in 1988. The cliff, located in Sydney Australia, was a well known meeting spot for members of the LGBTQ+. Somehow, John ended up at the bottom of the cliff.

Authorities ruled his death a suicide but his family urged law enforcement to investigate his death further. After a coroner examined the body decades later, they determined that Scott Johnson was murdered.

North Head Cliffs in Australia. Image from Wiki Commons.

Scott Johnson was an American college student who had moved to Australia to complete his studies at Australian National University.

Scott Johnson was 27-years-old when he met an 18-year-old Scott White in Australia. White was homeless at the time and the two happened to meet in a bar. After meeting, they went to a cliff at the top of North Head.

Johnson died on December 8th, 1988. His body was found naked on the rocks below the cliff on December 10th. His belongings were located at the top of the cliff.

The ex-wife and her testimony

Scott White’s ex-wife, Helen White, spoke with police during the investigation in 2019. She told them that White bragged to her about beating up gay men, and that the “only good gay man was a dead gay man”. She also shared that her ex-husband claimed to see Scott Johnson run off the cliff that night.

However, there is reason to believe that Helen White reported her ex-husband because of a large cash reward. There was a $1 million Australian dollar reward for information regarding Johnson’s death in 2019 when she first went to the police. The reward doubled in 2020. Her attorney denied that she was even aware of such a reward, but there is much suspicion surrounding this.

During cross examination at the trial, Helen White denied having any knowledge of this reward.

The coroner’s report

The reason the murder was assumed to be a hate crime was largely based off the testimony of a coroner. A coroner examined the body in 2017 after Johnson’s family pushed for his case to be reviewed. This is what the coroner had to say about what happened to Johnson.



Dani Hendrix

I love writing true crime and fascinating stories about humans. You can find me on Instragram at @restless_dani if you would like to connect.