'Bone-chilling scream' before death plunge

5:29pm October 21, 2013
A still of footage captured on a pinhole camera of the accused Simon Gittany is alleged to have thrown his girlfriend Lisa Harnum from their Liverpool Street balcony in the CBD on 30 July, 2011 (AAP).
A still of footage captured on a pinhole camera of the accused Simon Gittany is alleged to have thrown his girlfriend Lisa Harnum from their Liverpool Street balcony in the CBD on 30 July, 2011 (AAP).

Just before she fell to her death from the 15th floor of a Sydney luxury apartment, Lisa Harnum screamed as her fiance put his hands over her mouth and pulled her back inside.

The footage of Simon Gittany was captured by a secret pinhole camera he installed outside the apartment door to spy on his Canadian partner.

A neighbour heard "a single bone-chilling scream" and a woman yelling "please help me, God help me" before the fall.

One witness said he saw a man who appeared to be fist-pumping on the balcony after something had gone over the edge.

Another witness walking near The Hyde apartment block on Liverpool Street told police he saw a shirtless man holding what appeared to be black luggage horizontally over the balcony before it fell over.

"Of course, it was not a piece of luggage, it was Ms Harnum wearing black clothing," Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC said at Monday's opening of the murder trial.

Gittany, 40, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his Canadian-born fiancee on July 30, 2011, and was supported in the Supreme Court by his current girlfriend.

Mr Tedeschi told the court that Gittany was a controlling and abusive partner.

He said Gittany had alienated the former dancer from all her friends, discouraged her from getting a job as a hairdresser and hired a personal trainer to come to the apartment so she wouldn't go to the gym, where he believed men would look at her.

"(He believed) it was her function in life to submit to his will as the male in the relationship," he said.

Mr Tedeschi said the 30-year-old also changed her religion to Catholicism for him and had to dress and do her hair how he wanted.

He had secret cameras inside and outside her apartment and had access to her emails and text messages without her knowledge.

When walking down the street, Ms Harnum had to either look at the ground or into his eyes because she was scared he might think she was looking at other men, the court heard.

"The deceased's confidence became more and more diminished," Mr Tedeschi said.

Her mother Joan Harnum, who took the witness box on Monday, said her daughter was fearful of Gittany.

Ms Harnum said, when she threatened to leave Gittany, he would tell her he would destroy her chances of becoming an Australian permanent resident, which was her life's dream.

"She told me he was always very controlling and wanted to always know where she was, what she was doing, who she was with, what she was wearing," Ms Harnum said.

Ms Harnum tried to leave Gittany days before her death with the help of two friends, but Gittany caught wind of her plan thanks to his constant surveillance and abused one of the friends on the phone, the court heard.

But Gittany's defence barrister Philip Strickland SC said Ms Harnum was a "conflicted, complicated and confused woman" who often overreacted to get attention and to get her way.

He said their relationship had a pattern of "an argument, an overreaction and then a reconciliation".

Mr Strickland said Gittany tried to save his fiancee as she hung herself over the balcony in the midst of a fight but was shocked to see her fall over.

However, the crown alleges there were no fingerprints on the glass of the balcony onto which Gittany said Ms Harnum climbed before she fell.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

© AAP 2014
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