Man charged with 1988 cold case murder to remain behind bars

The lead investigator responsible for the arrest of a man believed to be behind the tragic death of Scott Johnson more than three decades ago has said he hopes the case will bring justice to the victim's family and the gay community of NSW.

Man charged with 1988 cold case murder to remain behind bars

The man charged with the 1988 murder of Scott Johnson in Sydney's north will remain behind bars for at least another month.

Scott Phillip White, 49, was arrested at his home in Lane Cove yesterday and charged with murder, 32 years since the alleged gay hate crime.

Today, Mr White appeared in Parramatta Local Court via video link and did not apply for bail.

It comes as the lead investigator responsible for the arrest said he hopes the case will bring justice to the victim's family and the gay community of NSW.

On the morning December 10, 1988, the body of Mr Johnson, a Sydney-based American national, was found at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point, near Manly's North Head. Mr Johnson was aged just 27.

Initially treated as a suicide and then as an unexplained death, a third inquest in 2017 found Mr Johnson had been murdered in a gay-hate crime.

Following extensive investigations, detectives arrested a 49-year-old man at Lane Cove about 8.30am yesterday.

The man was taken to Chatswood Police Station and charged with murder. He has been refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court today.

NSW Police arrested a man this morning over the 1988 death.

Detective Chief Inspector and lead investigator on the case, Peter Yeomans, said police were confident they had arrested Mr Johnson's killer.

"The person we arrested yesterday is the person that murdered Scott Johnson," he said.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the man's arrest would give hope that other unsolved cases could be resolved.

"Today is day of hope and thanksgiving, we're thankful for the tenacity and experience and the work that had been done, we're hopeful for the victims of the 400 cold cases that have now been given a breath of life after this 30-year-old arrest, we're also thankful that the Johnson family will get some level of closure," Mr Elliott said.

"The crime was offensive in so many ways, because he was a man at the beginning of what could have been a very successful life.

"It was offensive because of the motive of the crime."

Steve Johnson, the brother of murdered Scott Johnson, looks down to the rocks and ocean below at the point along the cliff at Blue Fish Point, North Head, Manly where his brother fell to his death 30 years ago.

Det. Chief Insp. Yeomans expressed his gratitude for those who worked on the case as well as members of the community who continued to aid police efforts.

"It was exceptionally complex ... when we got the job we didn't have a body, we didn't have any DNA evidence, we didn't have forensic evidence," he said.

"We worked for hours and hours to solve this case."

In 2013, Strike Force Parabell was established to investigate 88 unsolved cases across the Sydney and broader NSW area.

Of those 88 cases, 27 were identified as being motivated by gay-hate and among them was the death of Mr Johnson.

The formal investigation in to Mr Johnson's death commenced in 2018 when NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller referred the case to a specialist investigative team.

Strike Force Welsford was then established to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Johnson's death, beginning a two-year search for answers.

"To come to a position where we charged somebody is indeed an achievement," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

"We can't give back the 30 years of pain and hurt to the Johnson family but at least we can pursue justice," he said.

Comm. Fuller said the investigation revealed the ways in which crimes against members of the gay community were treated by law enforcement and the media in recent decades.

Comm. Fuller said the arrest was "a long time coming" for the victim's brother, Steve Johnson, his family and the gay community across Australia.

"I apologise to the Johnson family and to the community about the mistakes we've made in the past," he said.  

Comm. Fuller said they hope yesterday's arrest would encourage people who may have information on other cold cases to come forward.

"The NSW police force will never give up … there is no such thing as an unsolved crime," Comm. Fuller said.

Police did not release any further details of their allegations against the arrested man.

Investigators revealed someone is eligible for part of the $2 million reward.

Source : 9 News More   

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Huge snake devours possum in backyard

A snake catcher arrived at a Queensland property to find it mid-way through eating a large possum and described it as an "incredible" sight.

Huge snake devours possum in backyard

A snake catcher arrived at a Queensland property to find it mid-way through eating a large possum.

Despite having dealt with hundreds of snakes in his job, Stuart McKenzie from Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 said on social media it was an "incredible" sight.

"I knew that I was going to a house that had a snake eating a possum, but I just thought it was going to be on the ground which it usually is," Mr McKenzie told nine.com.au

WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURE BELOW

"I actually thought … I was about 15 minutes away when they called me and I thought the snake would be finished by the time I got there."

https://www.facebook.com/SunshineCoastSnakeCatchers/posts/2547988675452912

On arrival, Mr McKenzie was confronted by the large python hanging from the family's guttering.

"They (the family) were like 'there he is' and I couldn't believe he was still going," he said.

"But it all made sense because it takes much longer to eat them when they're hanging like that.

"It is common to see them eating a possum but I guess … it's pretty cool to see when they're eating them upside down.

"You normally see them in a more normal position."

Mr McKenzie said the retrieval of the python took about an hour.

All the while, he said the family was eating breakfast at their dining table "enjoying the show and watching nature at work".

"They were surprised at first (by the snake) but then they had sort of an appreciation and I guess a fascination as well," he said.

"I am currently here at a home in Mooloolaba waiting for this Large Carpet Python to finish his yummy meal of possum," he wrote on Facebook this morning.

Many who saw the post on social media commented, it looked like the possum was large enough to be a tree kangaroo.

Carpet Pythons are among the most commonly found snakes in suburban backyards.

Read more: Spot the snake hiding in these Australian backyards

They are generally non-venomous and pose little threat to humans but are known to devour small animals.

Mr McKenzie said the last few weeks had been surprisingly busy for snake catchers.

Normally colder temperatures deter snakes but Mr McKenzie said he had been kept busy as snakes got in their last big feeds before winter.

Earlier this year another python on the Sunshine Coast swallowed a family's pet cat.

Mr McKenzie also responded to that call-out and issued a warning to pet owners.

Python devours family cat

"It was amongst some bushes in the backyard, then I saw the food item and I thought that's a fat food item whatever that is," Mr McKenzie told nine.com.au.

He said the unfortunate incident was a warning for cat owners to keep their animals inside, even during the day."

Just be as responsible as possible, if you can either build a cat run, or when they're outside just be there and supervise," he said.

Source : 9 News More   

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