On trial: Simon Gittany says his fiancee committed suicide. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Alleged murderer Simon Gittany has run out of money to fund his high-profile defence, telling a court he is at risk of having to represent himself.
The legal bill for the 39-year-old, who denies throwing his ballerina fiancee Lisa Harnum off the balcony of their Hyde Park apartment, is set to approach $500,000 even without his senior counsel.
He was a granted a judge-alone trial, to begin on Monday, because it would be two weeks shorter than a trial by jury, allowing him to save money on legal representation by solicitor Abigail Bannister.
Victim: Lisa Harnum allegedly said she was returning to Canada. Photo: Bob Hughes/TomorrowsTruths.com
Mr Gittany has been refused legal aid because he doesn't meet the requirements.
He has borrowed money from friends and family and would have been unable to retain Phillip Strickland, SC, unless a judge-alone trial was granted.
Justice Lucy McCallum granted the judge-alone trial but stressed that it wasn't done just to suit the accused.
She said there was also a public interest because if Mr Gittany was forced to represent himself the trial would have to be adjourned and Ms Harnum's mother, Joan, had flown from Canada.
The key eyewitness, a passer-by who looked up to the 15th floor balcony of The Hyde and, he said, saw a man yelling, waving his arms and then throwing what the witness initially believed to be a suitcase over the railing, would also be unavailable if the trial was delayed.
''It is important to bear in mind in the present case that the interests of justice are not to be confused with the interests of the accused,'' Justice McCallum said. ''Trial by a judge alone is not available for the asking. However, broader interests are raised by the present application.''
Mr Gittany says Ms Harnum committed suicide by jumping off the balcony, possibly while in a mentally impaired state. He said her background as a dancer would have allowed her to leap over the railing.
His defence team will call a biomechanical engineer, a psychologist with expertise in eyewitness memory and an eating disorder expert who will give evidence about how such a condition would have influenced Ms Harnum.
On Thursday, his legal team successfully subpoenaed his and Ms Harnum's mobile phones from the police, which may contain stills or footage to support his case.
The Crown alleges he threw her off the balcony in a fit of rage because she had told him she was leaving him and going back home to Canada.
CCTV from outside their rented unit shows Mr Gittany dragging Ms Harnum back into the apartment by her head moments before she plunged to her death.
Mr Gittany was arrested on August 3, 2011, less than a week after Ms Harnum died. He has spent $210,000 on legal representation and requires a further $280,000 to fund his defence at trial.