Simon Gittany was today found guilty of murdering his fiancee, Lisa Harnum.
Ms Harnum, 30, plunged to her death from Gittany’s 15th-floor apartment on July 30, 2011.
Justice Lucy McCallum told the NSW Supreme Court she was confident “to the point of actual persuasion” that Gittany, then 39, “carried her over to the balcony and then dropped her over” in a fit of rage. She found Ms Harnum was trying to leave the accused on the morning of her death and he stopped her with “an act of serious aggression”.
“There is no doubt in my mind that [Gittany] was in a state of rage at that point and that he had lost control of his temper,” she said.
She rejected Gittany’s claim that she climbed over the balustrade and slipped. “One would have to be in a completely deranged mental state to climb over that balustrade in order to escape,” Justice McCallum said. “I do not think she was deranged.”
No traces of Ms Harnum’s fingerprints were found on any part of the balcony. “Ms Harnum could not have done what the accused says she did without touching the glass panel of the balcony,” the judge said.
Justice McCallum described Ms Harnum’s death as shocking and tragic, and said she would have been in a state of “absolute fear and despair” the morning she died.
There were emotional scenes in the packed courtroom as the verdict was read out. Gittany’s girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, 24, shouted “You’re wrong, you’re wrong!” before leaving the court screaming. An ambulance was called for Gittany’s mother, who had severe shock.
Outside court Lisa’s mother, Joan, said there were no winners in the case. “Two families have had their lives dramatically changed forever,” she told reporters. “We will always mourn the loss of our beautiful Lisa Cecilia and are working towards making her legacy a powerful wake up call to young women and to parents, siblings and friends … to be aware of the warning signs of a controlling relationship and take a proactive approach to assisting them.”
Ms Harnum thanked the judge, crown prosecutor and police for their hard work and dedication.
“It was a fair trial and the judge had a very difficult decision to make,” she said. “I respect her judgement and conclusion.
“My daughter’s favourite saying was ‘families are forever’. Please go home and hug your kids … and make it families forever for everyone.”
Gittany will remain in custody until he returns to court on February 5 for submissions on sentencing. He is not be eligible for a discount on his sentence. – Report and photo by Evan Zlatkis