A man known for killing animals as a teenager has denied bashing an "American faggot" around the same time a gay man's naked body was found at the bottom of a Sydney cliff.
Spear fishermen found the body of 27-year-old American mathematician Scott Johnson at Manly's North Head in December, 1988.
At least one person has told an inquest they heard a group of people bragging about teens bashing an "American faggot" they found masturbating near a Manly beach around the time Johnson died.
Counsel assisting Kristina Stern SC asked a witness whether he and a skinhead, who has since died, were responsible for the rumoured bashing.
"Totally untrue," replied the witness, who denied being a skinhead as a teenager.
The denials were part of evidence heard behind closed doors last week but played for journalists on Monday.
The inquest on Monday heard from other men who grew up on Sydney's northern beaches, including some who admitted being present at gay bashings.
They were all juveniles at the time and cannot be named.
A friend of the now-dead skinhead said the teen attended a barbecue in what he thinks was 1986 and said something like "I think I may have killed someone".
The skinhead was crying and trembling but his friend did not ask him anything more or report it to police.
Another former skinhead who admitted to being present at two bashings said the surviving alleged Manly basher was known to kill animals.
He said he had not heard a rumour the man had cut off cats' heads and put them in a freezer, but was aware the teenager had microwaved his mother's budgerigar and "smacked around his sister".
Mr Johnson's belongings were discovered 10 metres back from the cliff edge, not far from a beat where the inquest previously heard groups of "bashers" would set upon gay men.
Another man, who went to the city with a group to "roll a poof" in 1987, said he wouldn't remember if an associate told him they went "poofter bashing last night".
But he would recall if "someone had said, 'I threw a bloke off North Head'", he said.
The man took off his shirt to show the court a Grim Reaper tattoo he got as a teenager around the time the symbol appeared in a well-known AIDS awareness advertisement.
"Did you not associate it with the death of, as you called them, poofters," asked the barrister for Mr Johnson's family John Agius SC.
"No," the man replied.
This is the third inquest into Mr Johnson's death, who was found to have killed himself by the first coroner.