Gay-hate murder accused wants evidence cut

·2-min read

The man accused of the gay-hate killing of a man found at the bottom of a Manly cliff three decades ago will seek to have evidence against him thrown out before he faces trial.

Scott Phillip White has been charged with the murder of American mathematician Scott Johnson whose body was discovered near North Head on December 10, 1988.

White is due to face a jury trial in June 2022, but lawyers for the 50-year-old on Monday told the NSW Supreme Court they would file a notice of motion to have parts of the evidence against him excluded.

The defence would argue for a considerable "body of evidence" gathered during a police operation to be deemed inadmissible.

"It's our intention not to itemise ... all issues to which objection might ultimately be taken, but really to consolidate the evidence that pertains to this large issue," barrister Belinda Rigg said.

Supreme Court Justice Peter Johnson ordered a pre-trial hearing, to last five to seven days, be set down to begin on October 5 to deal with the issue.

The court also heard Mr Johnson's brother, Steve Johnson, hoped to fly in from the US to attend the October hearing in person.

The matter is next listed for a mention on September 21.

White's arrest in May 2020 represented a major breakthrough in Mr Johnson's family's 32-year fight for justice and follows three inquests into the death.

The 27-year-old's death was ruled a suicide at the first inquest before a second inquest in June 2012 returned an open finding.

However, the third inquest in 2017 found Mr Johnson fell from the clifftop as the result of violence by an unidentified attacker who perceived him to be gay.

A $1 million reward for information was offered by police in 2018 before Steve Johnson pledged to match that figure in March 2021.

A 2018 police review of 88 suspicious deaths between 1976 and 2000 revealed 27 men were likely murdered for their homosexuality, with cases peaking in the late 1980s and early 90s.

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