Australian Man Convicted of 1998 Killing of Gay American

The Supreme Court in New South Wales on Jan. 13 convicted an Australian man of murdering an American in a gay hate crime more than 30 years ago.

Justice Helen Wilson convicted Scott White, 50, of the 1988 murder of Scott Johnson after White pleaded guilty at a pre-trial hearing this week.

White shocked his defense team when he pleaded guilty and told them he appreciated their work “but I can’t handle it.”

Wilson said White was “very emphatic” in his plea, repeating “guilty” at least three times “in a manner which was very determined and very firm, and using a loud and clear voice,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wilson ruled that Johnson was the victim of a gay hate crime.

The Court heard that White had raised an intention to plead guilty on numerous occasions before the hearing, including a confession to police which he later withdrew.

White is due to return to court for sentencing on May 2. He faces the possibility if life in prison.

Belinda Riggs, White’s lawyer, said that White intended to appeal against his conviction.

The naked body of Johnson, a doctoral student at the Australian National University, was found on Dec. 8, 1988 at the base of North Head cliff in Sydney.

Johnson’s death was originally ruled as a suicide, but an inquest in 2017 found that the cliff from where Johnson fell was known to be frequented by anti-gay gangs.

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