Australian police reopen investigation of gay man’s death

Australian police have reopened an investigation into an American man’s death in Sydney 24 years ago which was originally dismissed as a suicide and will seek to find out whether it was linked to other homophobic attacks around the same time

Australian police reopen investigation of gay man’s death
26 October 2012

Police in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have reopened the investigation into a gay man’s death and will seek to find out whether it may be linked to the suspicious deaths of three other men that occured around the same time.

American born mathematician Scott Johnson’s body was found below cliffs near Manly Beach in northern Sydney 24 years ago but police at the time ruled the death a suicide despite the area above being a known meeting place for men who have sex with men.

Around the same time on the city’s southern beaches a number of gay men are believed to have been bashed and then thrown off cliffs in what were in many cases often initially ruled suicides.

The case was reopened after evidence was gathered by the Johnson family that identified similarities between the deaths and Scott Johnson’s which persuaded the NSW Coroner’s Court in June to change the verdict on his death to an open one – allowing police to reopen the case.

‘It would appear that these matters weren’t treated as seriously as they should have been when it was known there were marauding gangs of young men targeting gay men and committing crimes against them,’ Detective Chief Inspector John Lehmann told The Australian newspaper.

A 2004 coronial investigation looked into a pattern of homophobic bashings and murders on Sydney’ southern shore in the late 80’s and early 90’s but did not delve into whether similar violence had been occurring north of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

After reviewing the evidence in June, NSW Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes found that suicide was not the only explanation that should have been considered in Scott Johnson’s death.

‘The possibilities that Mr Johnson was the victim of a gay hate crime similar to those that occurred in Bondi or that he fell are also available explanations to the circumstances that surrounded his death,’ she told the court.

Police have reportedly identified more than a dozen men from three gangs who may have been involved in homophobic attacks in Sydney around the same time.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Australian rugby player David Pocock speaks out for marriage equality

'How can we be challenging homophobia when we’re saying, ‘You’re equal to me but you’re separate''
No thumbnail available

French mayors demand gay marriage ‘withdrawal clause’

Right-wing politicians say they should not be forced to conduct marriages between same-sex couples
No thumbnail available

Staunch LGBT ally Cory Booker wins US Senate seat in special election

Newark New Jersey mayor will have to run again next year to retain his seat
No thumbnail available

Gay sex google searches most common in Pakistan

One of the least tolerant societies in the world for accepting homosexuality has the highest amount of searches for gay sex terms
No thumbnail available

Client walks away from political lobbyist drafting bill to ban openly gay athletes from the National Football League

'As a company working to address issues about our country’s future, we have no intention of working with those stuck in the past'
No thumbnail available

Lesbian Sydney councillor argues back to MP's accusation

Christine Forster responds to Alex Greenwich's accusation that she is 'mean-spirited' and not supporting the LGBTI community
No thumbnail available

Oregon's bisexual governor bans 'gay conversion therapy'

House Democrats introduce bill to ban the discredited practice nationwide
No thumbnail available

Martina Navratilova helps overturn Kazakhstan's proposed 'gay propaganda' ban

Former Soviet country wanted to bring in anti-gay law and host the Olympics. They apparently can't do both
No thumbnail available

Happy Endings character revealed to have a surprising lesbian past

Viewers will find out that character of Jane has an ex-girlfriend