OTTAWA – A heartbroken Ottawa mother sat in an Australian courtroom Wednesday to hear the verdict she’s awaited for two years.
The jealous, controlling fiance her daughter nearly escaped from was convicted of murder after tossing her off their 15-storey balcony in Sydney, Australia.
Australian Simon Gittany, 40, had pleaded not guilty to killing Lisa Harnum, 30, on July 30, 2011.
Despite the outcome, “there’s no winners in this case. Two families have had their lives dramatically changed forever,” Joan Harnum told reporters.
Lisa, a former ballerina and aspiring model, had her bags packed and was planning on returning to Canada the morning she was killed.
Gittany discovered she was trying to leave and dragged her into their home, as shown in video recordings from cameras he had installed to spy on her.
Video later shows him taking the elevator from the 15th floor to the lobby.
A chilling note police found in Harnum’s pocket — in her handwriting — stated “There are surveillance cameras inside and outside the house.”
Gittany also monitored Harnum’s text messages and Internet activity, hiring a trainer to come to the condo so men couldn’t eye her at the gym.
Gittany’s defence lawyer suggested Harnum leaped to her death, just months before they were tying the knot.
But Justice Lucy McCallum didn’t buy it.
“We will always mourn our beautiful Lisa Cecilia and are working towards making her legacy a powerful wake up call to young women,” said Harnum.
She’s using the verdict as an opportunity to send a message to “parents, siblings, and friends of these young women to be aware of the warning signs of a controlling relationship and take a proactive approach to assisting them.”
Gittany barely reacted to the verdict, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
His girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, resembles Harnum and had to be removed from the court as she cried and told the judge, “You’re wrong.”
Gittany will be sentenced in February.
Harnum asked the press to respect the privacy of both families, ending with a touching statement.
“My daughter’s favourite saying was ‘families are forever.’ Please go home and hug your kids, and hug your wife, and your husband, and make it families forever for everyone,” she said.
— With files from QMI Agency, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Daily Telegraph Australia