The conspicuous absence of current girlfriend Rachelle Louise cast a darkly ironic pall over an already bleak scene at the NSW Supreme Court this morning, where stoic convicted criminal Simon Gittany was sentenced to 26 years with an 18 year non parole period for the murder of his girlfriend Lisa Harnum in July 2011 by throwing her off a fifteenth floor balcony in what presiding Justice Lucy McCallum deemed a “state of rage”.
Justice McCallum began her verdict by announcing that a sentence for the term of his natural life “would be excessive” for Gittany, a man she deemed “controlling, dominant and abusive” toward Harnum, whom she deduced must have been “in a state of complete terror” in the moments before her death when Gittany “unloaded [Harnum] with the intention of killing”. Senior Crown Prosector Mark Tedeschi had previously called for a sentence of at least 20 years; however Gittany’s barrister argued for a more lenient term on the basis that the 40-year-old is “unlikely to reoffend.”
Though she expressed no doubts as to its integrity, Justice McCallum also noted that the surprise witness testimony submitted last week from a friend of Harnum – who said Gittany “frequently threatened Lisa Harnum with death if she ever left him” – could not be taken into consideration as it undermined his right to a fair trial due to the laws of evidence and “unfair prejudice.”
McCallum determined that should could also not be satisfied that Harnum’s murder was premeditated until a few minutes before her death, and was instead “facilitated by a sense of ownership over a woman [Gittany] claimed to love, an extraordinary degree of manipulative behaviour, arrogance and a sense of entitlement.”
The court also heard of Gittany’s childhood as one of six immigrant children, whose mother provided “a secure and stable” upbringing likened to that of a hotel; how Gittany’s previous offence of biting a police officer in the ear some twenty years prior has “troubling resonance with the present offence”; and that Gittany’s total lack of remorse, maintaining his innocence, failure to accept responsibility and embracing of media attention demonstrates that his prospects of rehabilitation are “arid”.
Following the handing down of the verdict, Justice McCallum had to ask that screaming onlookers be removed from court, including Gittany’s sister, who cried “In the name of Jesus Christ, you won’t be doing any of that time”. Gittany, meanwhile, demonstrated no emotion. His solicitor has stated that Gittany maintains his innocence and will lodge an appeal.
He’ll be eligible for parole in May 2031. Good riddance.
Domestic violence is a crime. If you are scared now or in immediate danger, call 000. If you experience violence in a relationship or from a family member, call 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 or visit this website.