Follow by Email

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Simon Gittany trial begins

The evidence was compelling.  The secret pinhole camera Simon Gittany installed outside their apartment to spy on his fiance, captured footage of him with his hand over a terrified Lisa Harnum's mouth, dragging her back into the apartment by her head, moments before she plunged to her death.

A neighbour heard "a single bone-chilling scream" and a woman yelling "please help me, God help me" before the fall.  Another witness said he saw a man fist-punching the air after something had gone over the edge, and a man walking on Liverpool Street saw a shirtless man holding what appeared to be black luggage horizontally over the balcony, before it fell.

"Of course, it was not a piece of luggage, it was Ms Harnum wearing black clothing" Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi said.

It's Mr Tedeschi's job to prove that Simon Gittany threw Canadian-born Lisa Harnum off their 15th floor balcony in a fit of rage because she was leaving him and going home to Canada.

Mark Tedeshi

Gittany's barrister, Phillip Strickland SC argues that when Lisa Harnum went over the railing of their balcony, Gittany tried to help her get back up, and in doing so, she fell to her death.  He said that Lisa's state of mind is crucial to the case and although her motive for going over the balcony was unknown, it may have been a suicide attempt or a cry for attention.

Lisa Harnum

The trial must be a cruel nightmare for Lisa's mother Joan Harnum because Gittany's defence team now have to prove that her daughter was unstable to save their client.  They will call a biochemical engineer, a psychologist and an eating disorder expert to support their case.  Last week they successfully subpoenaed Gittany and Lisa's mobile phones from police which are said to contain evidence of her unstable behaviour.

New girlfriend

New laws that came in this year allow both the prosecution and the defence to suggest that the case be heard by one judge alone.  If both parties agree, then the court must dispense with a jury but if the defence objects, then it is up to the court to decide. 

There is some controversy among the legal community about these new rules, some say it has led to an increase in acquittals for people charged with serious crime, so Simon Gittany stands a better chance of getting off, as a lone judge has been appointed to decide his fate.

Apartment block

Gittany was accompanied to court by his current girlfriend, another beautiful woman.  I wonder what she was thinking when Mr Tedeschi pointed out that Gittany controlled his fiance's every move.  He refused her permission to work as a hairdresser and hired a personal trainer to come to the apartment so she wouldn't have to go to the gym.  "He believed it was her function to submit to his will as the male in the relationship" Mr Tedeschi said.

Joan Harnum, mother of Lisa

She even became a Catholic to please him and had to dress and do her hair the way he wanted.  He read all her email and text messages without her knowledge.  He was so jealous, she had to lower her eyes to the pavement as they walked in the street, in case Gittany accused her of looking at other men.  "The deceased's confidence became more and more diminished" Mr Tedeschi said.

The trial continues today.

Edit 4 November 2013:   Gittany takes the stand tomorrow.

Edit 13/11/2013: Today is D-Day for Simon Gittany.  Prosecutor Tedeski asked Justice Lucy McCallum three times to revoke Gittany’s bail and yesterday she finally agreed.  The law requires her to only allow bail if there were exceptional circumstances and in this case, she felt there were, as he was an integral part of his legal team.  But after more than three weeks of evidence, the prosecution and defence finished presenting their cases yesterday so his services were no longer required.  Mr Gittany's barrister, Philip Strickland, SC, argued he needed to have access to his client before he made his final submissions today, but the judge wouldn’t be moved. His girlfriend Rachelle Louise was in tears as he was taken into custody.