When you’re in hell, extreme heat starts to feel normal. That’s all I could think of when I watched the excellent Sunday Night story about Simon Gittany, the man who killed his 30-year-old fiancee Lisa Harnum by throwing her from their 15th floor apartment balcony.
Because the most disturbing quotes in an incredibly chilling interview with Gittany’s new girlfriend, Rachelle Louise were the ones where she responded to journalist Ross Coulthart’s questions about Gittany’s treatment of Lisa Harnum before her murder in 2011.
Referring to the documented pattern of controlling behaviour Gittany displayed, Coulthart put this to Rachelle Louise: “He told Lisa just to wear basic clothes. That she couldn’t wear dresses, just to wear pants. And she wasn’t to go to clubs anymore because he got uncomfortable with all the guys around and not to wear high heels to the shops.”
“Well, he doesn’t like me to wear high heels to the shops either,” replied Rachelle Louise, shaking her head slightly in a “duh” kind of way as if that was a just, and obvious, and imminently reasonable demand to make on your partner. “But the other stuff I don’t believe at all.”
Why Rachelle? Why don’t you believe it? Have you been so brainwashed by your abuser that your understanding of basic acceptable behaviour in a relationship has become twisted into a place where there’s an enforced dress code? Do you see nothing wrong with that?
It got worse. While her justifications for all Gittany’s past involvement with police were laughable (he was “defending himself” against a policeman when he bit off half the officer’s ear; he was “taking the wrap” for a mate when he was caught with bags of drugs and cash down his pants), it was her matter-of-fact explanations for what transpired between her murderer boyfriend and Lisa Harnum before her death that chilled me to the bone.
Showing her the below image, of Gittany covering Harnum’s mouth and dragging her back into their apartment mere seconds before throwing her off the balcony (something his defence team and Rachelle Louise insist never happened, claiming that Harnum committed suicide), Coulthart asked Rachelle Louise what she saw when she looked at it. “What does that show?” he asked.
“Simon’s hand over her mouth,” replies Rachelle Louise with a dead, steady gaze.
“I find that quite horrifying,” offers Coulthart after a long pause.