She loved him. He threw her over the balcony.

Murder victim Lisa Harnum

For Lisa Harnum, life was complicated.

As a ballerina living in Sydney away from her family in Canada, she battled daily with bulimia and anxiety.

Lisa fought her whole life to control the illness that took over her mind and her body. However dangerous her eating disorder was for her health, however, it did not kill her.

What killed her was much more sinister than bulima, much more dangerous than anxiety.

It came in the form of the man she loved.

The man who tried to dominate her, who would ultimately take control of her life and ultimately end her life.

Yesterday in the Supreme Court of Sydney, the verdict came down for Simon Gittany as GUILTY of the murder of his ballerina fiancé.

His new girlfriend Rachael apparently screamed and had to be escorted from court as the verdict was read out. Gittany showed little emotion and kept his head down.

Speaking after the trial, Lisa’s mother Joan said she looked into the eyes of Simon’s girlfriend and felt sorry for her.

”I looked into the poor girl’s [Rachelle Louise] eyes and I could see unhappiness. I looked straight down at her one day and she just looked at me and I just felt so sorry for her. I saw the same look in my daughter’s eyes,” she said.

“To the girls: if something doesn’t seem right, try and get help, someone you can talk to. You gotta reach out to somebody, to share it with, to help you deal with the situation because [you] can’t do it alone.”

It’s a trial that has gripped the country – and created international headlines.

In delivering her verdict Justice Lucy McCallum said she had no doubt Mr Gittany and Ms Harnum loved each other but said that was not the complete picture.

Over more than five hours, she described the former ballerina as a “warm and vivacious person. She made fun of herself and made other people laugh.”

She went on to say that, by late 2010, Ms Harnum was being “subjected to a degree of scrutiny that was intrusive and overbearing”.

Simon Gittany was “a controlling, abusive and domineering partner”

In bringing down her verdict declaring Simon Gittany guilty, the Supreme Court justice described him as being “controlling, dominating and at times abusive.”

During the trial we saw haunting fragile images of the skin-and-bones dark haired beauty who was his fiancee.


Lisa Harnum is a tiny mirror-like opposite of the voluptuous new girlfriend that Gittany paraded every day before us. Hand in hand he walked into the courtroom with his latest partner. And the courtroom caught their breath when they saw the sinister similarities between the two women.

Today his new partner sat in the front row – transfixed upon Gittany, and at times weeping.

Simon Gittany’s new partner, Rachelle Louise, outside the courts after the verdict.

Lisa Harnum and Rachelle Louise– both aspiring models – were dangerously alike. And in a cruel twist of fate Rachelle Louise seemed just as captivated by the calculating Gittany as the court evidence showed his dead fiancé was.

During the trial Simon Gittany admitted that his relationship with Lisa Harnum was dysfunctional.

But her mother gave evidence that it was more than that. She said during her relationship with Gittany her daughter became completely submissive to her partner.

“I’m a mere shell of a person,” the court heard she told her counselor. He tried to take over her life so completely that he hired Lisa a personal trainer so that she wouldn’t leave their apartment, for fear of those with whom she might come in contact with at the gym.

The court heard evidence of chilling text messages he sent his fiancé,

”Please don’t let any guy talk to you today … don’t look at any guy as your eyes should only gaze on me, the one,”

Another said :

“Who the fuck do you think you are walking around the house like you own it or coming and going without my permission? … You walk around like a peacock with your hair out.”

Gittany admitted in the trial he was a “jealous partner”.

Lisa Harnum’s eating disorder was detailed in the court case

“She would wear revealing clothes, sometimes with no bra. I would tell her she should continue to look beautiful but just to tone down how much she was revealing of her body so she didn’t attract the wrong sort of attention and give out the wrong signals,” he told the court.

Justice McCallum said by the time of her death Lisa Harnum felt sad and alone.

In the trial the Crown spoke of how Gittany had allegedly told Lisa she could not have a “voice” in their relationship and made her kneel and submit to his will in the days leading up to her death.

“He has humiliated her, denigrated her, put her in a position where she is physically and emotionally subservient to him and exerted his control over her.” The Crown prosecution said.

He monitored her movements and kept her at home as much as possible. He even had computer software that monitored her mobile phone.

The court heard evidence that Gittany installed secret surveillance camera everywhere.


Upon searching her body the  police found a note hidden amoungst her clothes revealing that she was aware of just how surveilled she was. A warning letter from the grave.

Justice McCallum also said Lisa couldn’t have done what Gittany said she did, without leaving fingerprints on the railing.

“I found it unconvincing,” she said.

Gittany on the morning of her death

It was July 30 2011. Simon Gittany had discovered the former ballerina was planning to leave him. The court heard she had smuggled clothes out of their apartment, packed a suitcase and tried to book an international flight.

Apparently Harnum made one last desperate phone call to her mother back in Canada the day before her death, pleading with her to “come and get me” and “remember that I love you…if anything happens.”

Note found in Lisa Harnum’s pocket

An argument took place that morning. Gittany agrees upon that.  What happened next was what was disputed in the court case.

Justice McCallum was critical of the evidence given by Gittany during the trial, including his account of how Ms Harnum died.

“He struck me as someone playing a role and …. his evidence relied on borrowed detail, which lacked the richness of actual experience.”

Part of the crucial evidence was his own surveillance footage, that showed Gittany put his hand around Lisa Harnum’s mouth and drag her back inside as she tried to flee the apartment.

The video shown to the judge only court was chilling.

A witness said she heard a woman, Lisa Harnum screaming: “Help me. God help me”.

Sixty-nine seconds later, she was dead.

He claimed that she calmly sat on the couch in that time, and then fled onto the balcony, climbed over the railing of the upscale 15th-storey apartment in and lost her footing.

The verdict this morning has shown that to be lies.

The Crown’s account said that Gittany threw Ms Harnum off the balcony, opposite Hyde Park, in a fit of rage as he was furious she was leaving him.

She held her handbag as she fell.

During the trial Crown Prosecutor told the court that no fingerprints matching Ms Harnum’s were on the balcony glass, and it was implausible she would have held on to her handbag the whole time if Gittany wasn’t restraining her.


“She’s not going to need her handbag on the balcony … she’s certainly not going to need it down the bottom.”

Gittany’s defence acknowledged the killer monitored Lisa’s texts, calls and emails. They admitted in court that it was “unjustifiable”.

A witness whom the Judge called a “key eyewitness”  was in Hyde Park on the morning of her death. The Judge today said that this witness, Joshua Rathmell was reliable and had a clear view of the building.

When cross-examined in court Mr Rathmell said he thought it was a ‘junkie on an ice rage’ screaming in a “deranged” fashion on the balcony.

The “junkie” he saw was shirtless, and he testified that he saw this man use both hands to throw a large object over a balcony before running back inside the apartment.

He said he walked towards where the object fell.  It was a body.

Gittany’s reaction

CCTV footage of Gittany in lift

Gittany undoutably was shocked at what he did. Surveillance cameras show him running from the apartment, shirtless. Only to enter his apartment again and then come out seconds late dressed.

His undeniable anguish was captured by the hotel lift’s security camera.

His undeniable shock, his undeniable rage at what he had done.

At the fact he had killed his fiancé by throwing her off a balcony.

The life of a tormented, tortured captured ballerina ended in an instant of rage and white-hot anger.

And now Gittany will pay for his crime…

Gittany’s prior convictions

Today reports are coming out about Simon Gittany’s criminal record. It’s been reported that in 1995, Gittany was jailed for biting off part of a policeman’s ear.

Prior to that he was on a good behavior bond for punching a man while he was being held down by others. He was questioned by police for receiving stolen property and served weekend detention in 2001 for selling cocaine.

Lisa’s mum Joan speaks to A Current Affair about Gittany

Speaking on the Channel 9 current affairs program last night, Joan Harnum said her daughter was completely “brainwashed”.

Gittany will be sentenced on February 5 2014.

To sign our pledge to protect women at risk of violence in memory of Lisa Harnum, click here.