Gittany maintains innocence
Convicted balcony killer Simon Gittany maintains he is innocent while his girlfriend staged a protest outside court before his sentencing hearing. Nine News.PT1M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-322hw 620 349 February 6, 2014
Simon Gittany's latest day in court was supposed to be about how long the 40-year-old should spend in jail for the murder of fiancee Lisa Harnum. But instead, the convicted murderer, his model girlfriend Rachelle Louise and a group of loyal supporters turned his Supreme Court sentencing hearing into a protest about his innocence.
Gittany was found guilty in December of throwing Ms Harnum, 30, to her death from the 15th floor balcony of the inner-city apartment they shared in 2011.
His murder trial heard he was an abusive and domineering partner who monitored the former ballerina's text messages and movements through security cameras.
Protests: Rachelle Louise leads her boyfriend's supporters outside court. Photo: Peter Rae
But before the court doors had even opened for Wednesday's sentencing hearing, the Gittany family marched outside in silent protest holding placards protesting his innocence. One of the signs had the names of those who had been convicted of murder only to have their decision overturned on appeal, including Lindy Chamberlain, Gordon Wood, Andrew Mallard and Roseanne Catt.
They made no comment, except when Ms Louise said once in response to reporters' questions: ''Can you read?''
Questioning various pieces of evidence, one placard read: ''How do you render some 1 unconscious in less than 65 secs without any trauma on the body?"
The procession was led by Ms Louise, who later told the court that her full-time job was working on Gittany's case and that she would stand by him ''until justice prevails''. ''My relationship with Simon is amazing,'' Ms Louise said. ''[He is] the best boyfriend I've ever had. He is so caring and romantic.'' She told the court how she and her family loved Gittany. The only reason she had agreed to do a paid interview with Channel Seven's Sunday Night program was to raise funds for his court case.
The aspiring writer said she and her father had already put up $170,000 to pay his legal bills.
Gittany again told the court he was not a killer. He said he wanted Ms Harnum's family, who opted not to attend the hearing, to know that his heart went out to them and that his late fiancee ''did not die as the result of being murdered''.
''I could only imagine what their loss must be like and my heart goes out to them," Gittany said as his voice trembled.
''I was found guilty of a crime and I maintain my innocence - I did not kill Lisa Harnum.
''I would never, ever kill anybody. I am Christian, God-fearing, I believe in God, always have.''
Lisa's mother Joan Harnum used the hearing to speak to her daughter's killer through a written statement read to the court by Ms Harnum's former counsellor, Michelle Richmond.
''Mr Gittany, even though you are incarcerated, your family can still talk to you. We will never be able to talk to, kiss, hug … or say we love you to our precious Lisa Cecelia ever again.''
She pleaded for an end to violence against women, calling for ''my daughter's cries to be heard''.
''No one has the right to control another person's life so intensively that they no longer have the right to go outside. No one has the right to treat someone the way Lisa was.''
The court also heard from a former beauty school friend of Ms Harnum's who said Gittany had threatened to kill Ms Harnum several times before her death. She told the court Ms Harnum said she feared if she tried to leave Gittany that he would kill her and make her death look like a suicide.
But Justice Lucy McCallum ruled the evidence inadmissible. It will not have any effect on her decision as to how long Gittany will be sentenced for. The sentencing hearing continues on Thursday.