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Simon Gittany jailed for 18 years minimum

Convicted murderer Simon Gittany is sentenced to a maximum of 26 years in jail for killing his fiancee Lisa Harnum in 2011.

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Simon Gittany has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years with a maximum of 26 years for killing his fiancee Lisa Harnum by throwing her off a Sydney high rise in 2011.

Justice Lucy McCallum said Ms Harnum must have been "in a state of complete terror in the last moments before her death".

Accused: Simon Gittany, centre, leaves the Downing Centre.

Jailed: Simon Gittany. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Meanwhile, Ms Harnum's mother revealed she has signed a deal with Channel Seven and Gittany's lawyer flagged an appeal against her client's conviction.

Gittany, after hearing he would spend a maximum of 26 years in jail, stared straight ahead and his head dropped.

He did not look at or speak to his family and was escorted out of the courtroom in silence by Corrective Services officers.

Showing support: Simon Gittany's partner Rachelle Louise, left, holds a sign outside court with other protesters.

Showing support: Simon Gittany's partner Rachelle Louise, left, holds a sign outside court with other protesters last week. Photo: Peter Rae

After Justice Judy McCallum handed down the sentence in the NSW Supreme Court today, one of Gittany's sisters stood up and declared: "In the name of Jesus Christ, he won't be doing any of that time."

She was removed from the courtroom.

A woman in the public balcony whooped loudly in apparent celebration. As Gittany was being taken down, the same woman shouted: "Off the balcony you go!"

The sisters of Simon Gittany leave court after seeing their brother jailed for at least 18 years.

The sisters of Simon Gittany leave court after seeing their brother jailed for at least 18 years. Photo: Kate Geraghty

In November last year, Gittany, 40, was found guilty of murder by throwing Ms Harnum, 31, from the 15th floor of their luxury inner-city apartment block, in what the judge described as a "fit of rage".

The judge-only trial lasted more than a month.

No remorse: judge

Murdered: Lisa Harnum.

Lisa Harnum: was thrown from a balcony by Gittany.

Today, Justice McCallum told the court she did not believe the murder had been premeditated or planned.

She did not believe Gittany had planned to kill Ms Harnum until the day of her death.

She found that Gittany's act of throwing Ms Harnum off the balcony could "only have been done with the intention of killing her".

Simon Gittany with his girlfriend leaving the Supreme Court in Darlinghurst.

Simon Gittany with his girlfriend leaving the Supreme Court in Darlinghurst before the guilty verdict. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

"The intention to kill was formed suddenly and in a state of rage," she said.

Justice McCallum said Gittany showed no remorse and had a low chance of rehabilitation.

"It appears to be an arid prospect," she said.

She said the offence was of sufficient seriousness that the standard non-parole period of 20 years would provide "a strong guide".

Justice McCallum said she did not believe Gittany had suffered from intense media attention because he had invited it.

"He had embraced the attention of the media."

She said Gittany had not attempted to dissuade his partner, Rachelle Louise, from appearing on national television nor stopped her from parading in a silent protest outside court last week.

"He had not attempted to dissuade her from being involved in the protest," she said.

"I do not accept that media attention is unwanted."

Any "small act of defiance" by Ms Harnum was met with trenchant abuse by Gittany, who had "a sense of ownership" over her, the judge said.

"I am satisfied that Ms Harnum must ... have been in a state of complete terror in the last moments before her death. That is clear from the things she said to her mother during their last conversation, the video footage of her attempt to leave the apartment by the front door and the chilling account given by the neighbours of her screams for help as she banged on the door of their apartment.

"By an attritional process, he [Gittany] allowed possessiveness and insecurity to overwhelm the most basic respect for her right to live her life as she chose. Although I accept that the intention to kill was formed suddenly and in a state of rage, it was facilitated by a sense of ownership and a lack of any true respect for the autonomy of the woman he claimed to love.

"There can be no finding of remorse as a mitigating factor, having regard to Mr Gittany’s denial of guilt and his steadfast refusal to accept responsibility for his conduct."

A number of character references were tendered as part of Gittany's defence on sentencing.

But Justice McCullum said they made no references to Gittany's crimes, including his 1994 attack on a policeman in which he bit the officer's ear.

The "sickening" offences "had a troubling resonance" with Ms Harnum's murder, she said.

"By December 2010, Ms Harnum was being subjected to a degree of scrutiny and direction from him that was overbearing."

Justice McCallum said that Gittany would have anticipated the prospect that he would fly into a rage if ever she were to leave him.

"The evidence as to his conduct in the days leading up to her death reveals that he considered himself to be entitled to express a measure of rage in that event."

Justice McCallum said Gittany has refused to accept responsibility for his conduct.

The decision was the culmination of an extraordinary trial and sentencing process, attracting media attention across the globe.

Appeal flagged

Speaking outside court, Gittany's solicitor, Abigail Bannister, said Gittany would appeal against the conviction.

"Mr Gittany maintains his innocence and there will be an appeal," the solicitor said.

Deal with Seven silences Harnum's mother

Ms Harnum's mother, Joan, said she was "regrettably" not able to express how she felt about Gittany's sentence because she had signed a television deal with Channel Seven.

She told Fairfax Media said she was unable to speak to any media after she has signed a contract forbidding her to talk for another seven to 10 days.

Channel Seven's Sunday Night has secured exclusive interviews with the Harnum family and Gittany's lover, meaning no one has spoken since the sentence was handed down.

Even Gittany's family remained silent as they walked from the Supreme Court complex at 11.40am.

Rachelle Louise not in court

Ms Louise was not in court for his sentencing, amid reports she has signed a deal with Channel Seven to hold her silence.

A Sunday Night reporter told journalists sitting in court that Ms Louise was not coming to hear how long Gittany would be sentenced to spend behind bars.

Gittany's brother and sister and a few family members waited in the public gallery at 10am with no signs of Ms Louise.

Ms Louise's no-show was a complete contrast to a circus-like protest she held last week.

She and the Gittany clan entered the Supreme Court complex holding a number of placards with points they claimed proved his innocence.

Ms Louise told Channel Seven she knew her boyfriend was innocent.

"I don't make a statement based on something Simon's told me. I have worked through the case completely," she said.

"Simon is an innocent person and someone needs to help him, and that is exactly what I'm doing and I plan on standing by him until justice prevails," she said.

Possessive rage

On the morning of the murder, Gittany grabbed Ms Harnum, a Canadian, by the throat in a possessive rage as she tried to flee and dragged her back inside.

Neighbours say they heard a woman screaming "Please help me! God, help me!" followed by a man's voice, and then complete silence.

Gittany had knocked the young woman out, Justice McCallum found.

He then carried her out to the balcony and "unloaded" her over the edge.

This was Ms Harnum's punishment for making one final, desperate attempt to leave her controlling, dominating boyfriend.

For weeks she had been planning to go, leaving bags of clothes with her personal trainer and a counsellor so that Gittany's suspicions would not be aroused, and discussing one-way flights back to Canada with her mother.

When Gittany discovered the plan, he was consumed by rage.

"For all his vigilance, his errant fiancee had found a way to secretly remove her belongings," Justice McCallum said.

Virtually from the start of his relationship with Ms Harnum, Gittany exhibited a burning need to control virtually every aspect of her life - how she dressed, where she went and how she behaved.

When police arrived at the murder scene on the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth streets, they found a torn-up note in the woman's jeans pocket with the words "there are surveillance cameras inside and outside the house" scrawled in her distinctive handwriting.

This was a reference to the near-constant surveillance Gittany kept his girlfriend under, including monitoring her text messages through a program he had secretly installed on her phone and a bristle of CCTV cameras monitoring the apartment.

During the sentencing process the Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, described the murder as "cold and calculating", submitting that that it warranted a minimum sentence of 20 years in jail.

The defence argued that the sentence should be "significantly less" than 20 years.

- with AAP