Scott Johnson murder: conviction overturned on appeal

The man convicted of murdering US mathematician Scott Johnson has had his conviction set aside on appeal.

Scott Alan White was sentenced to jail in May this year over the 1988 murder of US mathematician Scott Johnson. His sentencing came after he appeared to confess to the murder at a pre-trial hearing in January.

Johnson’s naked body was found at the base of cliff in Manly in 1988. His death was initially ruled a suicide despite the area being known as a gay beat where assaults against gay men regularly occurred.

His family fought for decades to have his death re-examined and after two additional coronial inquests it was reclassified, leading to the arrest of Scott Alan White for the murder. White initially pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the crime, but then surprised the court when he changed his plea and confessed to the murder.

The long running investigation took an unexpected twist when White declared he was “guilty, guilty, guilty” during an arraignment hearing in January. His legal team tried to have his declaration of guilt removed arguing that their client was under extreme stress and was confused, but the judge ruled it was clearly stated and found him guilty of the murder.

Now the NSW Court of Appeal have ruled that application to withdraw the guilty plea should be reconsidered, and they’ve set aside his conviction and sentence. If the application is successful White may face a retrial.

OIP Staff

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