The family of US national Scott Johnson, who was found dead in Sydney in the late 1980s, hailed today’s sentencing of his killer as “justice”.
His older brother Steve Johnson spoke in court and said the decision to jail his killer for at least eight years offered ‘dignity’ to his brother.
“I think what we got this week was fairness,” Mr Johnson said.
“My brother brought out the best in me in life and I think he brought out the best in me in death, but that benevolent spirit brought out the best in me in Australia.”
“Today feels like justice for Scott,” his sister Rebecca Johnson said.
“We spent three decades asking unanswered questions and today I feel like we got answers and we got justice and that’s for our brother.”
Mr Johnson was found dead at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point, near Manly’s North Head, on December 10, 1998.
The 27-year-old’s death was initially ruled a suicide, even though the area was a well-known gay area and targeted by gangs.
Scott White admitted to the murder after his wife 30 years later revealed he bragged at the time about bashing gay people.
At today’s sentencing, the court heard White was ‘no longer the angry young man throwing his fists at a man on a cliff’.
The judge concluded that the crime was either motivated by hate or self-loathing.
White was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 12 years and seven months, with a period without parole of eight years and three months.
He will be eligible for parole in 2030.
Yesterday the killer’s ex-wife said he bragged about speaking out on gay people during the time of Mr Johnson’s death and they discussed the tragedy the year she died is produced, then two decades later.
“I remember asking him if it was one of the gay people he criticized,” she said.
This week the court also heard statements from Mr Johnson’s siblings and his partner at the time of his murder about the impact the tragedy had on their lives.
“I will never forget our mother’s cries when I called her to tell her that her youngest child had died. I believe her agony after losing Scott never left her for the rest of her life.” , said his older brother, Mr Johnson. .
Michael Noone had been in a relationship with Scott in the years before his death and faced the unthinkable task of identifying his partner’s body.
“Unless you have experienced it, no one can understand the horror of receiving a voicemail from the police asking you to identify the body of a loved one,” he told the court.
“No one can imagine what it was like to see her lifeless and horribly disfigured body,” he said, adding “I’m so glad I was there to say goodbye to her.”