Simon Gittany loses murder appeal

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Crime and law
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Simon Gittany lost his appeal yesterday against his conviction of the Sydney, Australia murder of his fiancee, Lisa Harnum, in July 2011. Gittany killed Harnum by throwing her over their fifteenth storey balcony in a fit of rage.

His original sentence was a minimum 18 years, which remained in effect after the unanimous decision made by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday. He had appealed to overturn the murder conviction.

The Supreme Court building in Sydney, one of the venues where the Court of Criminal Appeal meets.
Image: Enoch Lau.

Gittany is now 42, while Harnum was 30 at the time of her death. Gittany’s appeal involved a legal argument that testimony from Joshua Rathmell, the Crown’s key witness, was unreliable.

The court heard Rathmell’s testimony, which said on the night of the murder he was heard “deranged screaming” while walking past the apartment in Liverpool Street. Rathmell had originally thought Harnum’s body getting thrown over the balcony was a suitcase or black duffel bag.

During the appeal, Gittany’s lawyer argued Rathmell’s testimony may have been influenced by his learning it was a body after the incident, but all three judges dismissed that challenge.

CCTV footage on the night of the murder case showed Gittany forcefully and angrily grabbing a frightened Harnum, forcing her into the apartment, barely a minute before she was killed. The footage then showed Harnum take the building elevator downwards.

He was tried by Justice Lucy McCallum without a jury and was found guilty. McCallum’s judgement was 175 pages long and specified her contentment with the verdict and that Gittany was undoubtedly not in control of his temper and in a state of rage.


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