Fiancee killer Simon Gittany hoped the publicity generated by his new girlfriend Rachelle Louise would help his case, the judge who sent him to jail said.
Simon Gittany – jealous, possessive and utterly without remorse – will spend at least 18 years in jail after throwing his fiancee Lisa Harnum to her death from a 15th-floor Sydney balcony.
As Supreme Court Judge Lucy McCallum delivered both the sentence and the character assessment, she also took aim at 40-year-old Gittany’s “flamboyant” and attention-seeking relationship with new girlfriend Rachelle Louise.
Ms Louise, who bears a strong resemblance to her boyfriend’s murdered fiancee, was not in court to hear it.
Justice McCallum said Gittany’s relationship with Ms Louise had been conducted “very much in the public eye” and in the knowledge that she could be an important witness to his character.
She said Gittany encouraged Ms Louise’s paid television appearances because he thought the publicity would help his case.
“He was asked whether he agreed that her appearance would merely encourage media attention to his case,” she said.
“He replied `that is the whole point of it’.
“While a physical resemblance between Ms Louise and Ms Harnum has been the subject of public comment, I suspect the similarity ends there.
“I do not think any reliable inference as to Mr Gittany’s future conduct can be drawn from his flamboyant relationship with Ms Louise.”
As part of her television deal, Ms Louise on Tuesday night said she was optimistic Gittany would not do the sentence.
“I still want to be optimistic in a sense that I believe he won’t do it,” she said in a statement given to eh Seven Network.
“I truly do believe he has been wrongfully convicted.”
During the trial, the court heard Gittany was controlling and had installed CCTV cameras inside their apartment and used a computer program to monitor Ms Harnum’s text messages and emails.
The judge imposed a maximum of 26 years for the murder of Ms Harnum in July 2011, causing one of Gittany’s supporters to yell: “In the name of Jesus Christ, he won’t do any of that time.” She was ejected from court.
Gittany will be eligible for parole in May 2031 but his lawyers say he maintains his innocence and intends to appeal.
Justice McCallum also rejected submissions from Gittany’s defence that the media attention had triggered depression in their client.
“It seems likely that the principal cause of the offender’s current state of depression is the guilty verdict and the prospect of a lengthy term of imprisonment.”
A number of character references were tendered as part of Gittany’s sentencing submission.
But Justice McCallum said they made no references to Gittany’s crimes, including his 1994 attack on a policeman in which he bit the officer’s ear.
“I appreciate that the offence was committed almost 20 years ago, but it has a troubling resonance with the present offence,” she said.
“Each appears to have entailed a sudden loss of control and a response of extreme violence to a blameless act. Each involves a form of violence that is shocking and unequivocal.”
She said Gittany showed no remorse and had a low chance of rehabilitation.
“It appears to be an arid prospect,” she said.