On his knees: The moment that Gittany proposed to Lisa Harnum.

On his knees: The moment that Gittany proposed to Lisa Harnum. Photo: Supplied

It took four hours and 16 minutes for Justice Lucy McCallum to precisely and methodically dissect every detail in the extraordinary, tragic case of murdered Canadian Lisa Harnum.

As the tension rose in a packed courtroom she painstakingly assembled the puzzle of the young woman's death, from the controlling relationship she was trapped in, the marriage proposal made and accepted, and, finally, the gut-wrenching plunge from the 15th floor of The Hyde apartments to the central Sydney footpath below.

At the end of it all the arrow of guilt pointed clearly in one direction - Simon Gittany - who Fairfax can reveal has been jailed for violence before.

''I have stood on the balcony at the point where Lisa Harnum is said to have climbed, according to the accused,'' Justice McCallum said in the final, eloquent climax to her decision on Wednesday.

''I simply cannot accept that any person with a will to survive could have regarded it as an option for escape.

"I am satisfied to a point of actual persuasion and beyond reasonable doubt that the accused maintained his rage and, in that state, carried her to the balcony and unloaded her over the edge."

The words unleashed a torrent of emotion. As Gittany closed his eyes, his new girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, sprang to her feet in tears and screamed "You're wrong! You're friggin' wrong!"

"Putting your hand over someone's mouth - that's not an act of aggression!"

"It's OK baby, it's OK," Gittany said.

But the drama only intensified.

As Justice McCallum cleared the court, Gittany's mother and sisters broke down, screaming and wailing as they were led into a side room in the historic court complex.

"It's wrong! It's just wrong!" Gittany's mother screamed. "He didn't get a fair trial."

So distraught was the family matriarch that court officers had to call an ambulance so she could be treated for shock.

Meanwhile Rachelle Louise stormed out of the courtroom and straight into the media pack, beginning a bizarre three minutes in which she sat silently smoking a cigarette as at least 20 microphones bristled around her.

The exit of the victim's mother, Joan Harnum, was much more subdued. ''There are no winners in this case. Two families have had their lives dramatically changed forever,'' she said.

''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.''

It was a dramatic end to an extraordinary chapter in Sydney's criminal history that began many years before Ms Harnum's death in 2011.

Fairfax Media can now reveal that Gittany was first jailed in 1995 after he bit the ear of a police officer who was trying to arrest him at his family home in Merrylands.

Then aged 20 and unemployed, Gittany was being detained after he was caught with $7000 worth of stolen goods that he had bought from someone in an early morning deal in a Parramatta pub.

When two officers arrived at his home to question him seven months later over the items, he and his mother got into a violent struggle with police that culminated with Gittany biting one of the officers. More police had to be called to the house to break up the fight.

About 15 years after this incident, Gittany met Ms Harnum through a mutual friend and began a relationship that was loving but also destructive.

''There can be no doubt the accused was controlling, dominating and at times abusive of Ms Harnum,'' Justice McCallum said.

''The force of his jealous and controlling personality met mixed reaction from Ms Harnum, who was at times defiant and at times submissive to an inexplicable degree.

''By the end of July 2011, these tensions had reached a point of crisis.''

By 6am on the morning of her death, Ms Harnum was ''in a state of absolute fear and despair''.

Justice McCallum found Gittany reacted with ''nothing short of rage'' when he discovered Ms Harnum had secretly put some of her possessions in storage.

''For all his vigilance, his errant fiancee had found a way to secretly remove her belongings,'' the judge said.

Justice McCallum said the Crown's crucial witness, Josh Rathmell, had given a ''careful and compelling account'' of what he saw on the day of Ms Harnum's death.

She said she was not troubled by the fact that the ABC employee continued to make his way to work after he had seen Gittany ''unload'' what he thought was a piece of luggage and then later realised was a body.

She said that the defence had compelled her to find the accused not guilty if she had any doubt about his account of what he had seen.

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