The Fall: How Simon Gittany murdered Lisa Harnum

 

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This is a very good book by  journalist Amy Dale about the killing of young woman Lisa Harnum.

Dale is Chief Court Reporter for The Daily Telegraph and started covering this case from the point of Simon Gittany’s arrest in August 2011. She speaks to the family and friends of Canadian-born Lisa Harnum, who lived with Gittany in a luxury Sydney apartment.

The relationship was abusive. Gittany was obsessed with controlling Lisa – he referred to her by her second name Celeste – and wanted to know her every move. Lisa was an unwell woman. Anorexic and hopelessly dependant on Gittany. She was trying to leave when she was thrown off their Sydney high-rise. As is well documented, the time when a woman wants to leave is the most dangerous in a domestic violence situation.

The case attracted high media attention and Dale was there for it all, which gives this book great weight. Dale also travelled to Lisa’s hometown and spent time with her family and friends.

I remember following some of the case and the appearance of Gittany’s new girlfriend Rachelle Louise was disturbing and to me, exemplified the obsession of some people for fame and recognition. Rachelle Louise, a beautiful woman (though in an odd, fake way) courted the media’s attention and held placards protesting other miscarriages of justice. The cameras followed her everywhere and when she cut her long hair into a slick bob and arrived for Gittany’s sentencing it also made news. Rachelle Louise gave a “tell-all” interview on Sunday Night, claiming her payment would fund law school so she could prove Gittany innocent.

Gittany was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years with a maximum of 26 years.

It’s a very sad story. A young woman is killed by her partner. Treated like a piece of rubbish and thrown to her death. A photo in the book shows the contents of Lisa’s handbag splayed all over the road. In it was something like an affirmation card or book of Loise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. To me that is the sadness and desperation Lisa Harnum felt to change her life.

She never got the chance.

I did find parts of the book repetitive but this was more a reflection of the abuse and control in Gittany and Lisa Harnum’s relationship. He was so obsessed with knowing where she was and tracking her via text message. Constantly. Lisa Harnum’s victimisation was awful to read.Every time she would maybe have a chance to leave, she wanted to give him another chance…he was a master manipulator. He made her dependant on him and had exploited her fragile state of mind and made it far worse…then he killed her.

The Fall is published by Random House.

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