Lisa Harnum's fiancé convicted in Australia balcony murder
Man angry over Ontario woman's plan to return to Canada, court told
An Australian man has been found guilty of murdering his Canadian fiancée by throwing her off a highrise balcony.
A judge delivered the verdict Wednesday against Simon Gittany, 40, before a packed Supreme Court in Sydney, which heard how Lisa Harnum, 30, plunged to her death from the couple's 15th-floor apartment in the city in July 2011.
Harnum's mother, Joan, from Ottawa, was in the court to hear the 4½-hour verdict.
She later told reporters the case is a "powerful wakeup call to young women and to parents, siblings and friends of young women, to be aware of the warning signs of a controlling relationship and to take a pro-active approach to assisting them."
She said there are no winners in this case and that "two families have had their lives dramatically changed forever."
Justice Lucy McCallum said the lack of fingerprints on the glass barrier made Gittany's version of events implausible. He had told the court that Harnum ran out to the balcony and was climbing over the glass balustrade when he reached her.
Justice McCallum also dismissed suggestions Harnum had suicidal tendencies or would have self-harmed, telling the court they were "completely unfounded."
The court heard that just 69 seconds before Harnum's death, Gittany was captured on a security camera he had installed inside their apartment, physically restraining her and dragging her back inside the unit as she tried to flee.
The court was told Gittany killed Harnum in a "fit of rage" after he discovered she was planning to leave him and return to Canada.
Dressed in a suit, Gittany barely reacted as he was found guilty.
However, the judgment prompted an outburst from his current girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, who screamed at the judge, "You're wrong."
The outburst continued as she was removed from the court in a flood of tears.
The judge said at the time of Harnum's death, Gittany was a jealous lover who monitored his fiancée's text messages.
Justice McCallum told the court Gittany was controlling and at times abusive toward his partner. The court was told Gittany "berated" his fiancée, a former dancer, for looking beautiful and did not want her to associate with her co-workers.
Sentencing for Gittany is scheduled Feb. 5.