Convicted murderer Simon Gittany was today sentenced to 26 years imprisonment for throwing his then fiance Lisa Harnum off their 15th floor high rise balcony. The minimum non-parole period handed down is 18 years. Of course, I have no doubt that Gittany committed the offence in question. Considering the atrocity of his crime, Justice Lucy McCallum’s sentence appears to have been appropriate. But it is interesting to compare the reported sentencing remarks with the legislative purposes of sentencing.
Section 3A of the NSW Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 provides as follows:
The purposes for which a court may impose a sentence on an offender are as follows:
(a) to ensure that the offender is adequately punished for the offence,
(b) to prevent crime by deterring the offender and other persons from committing similar offences,
(c) to protect the community from the offender,
(d) to promote the rehabilitation of the offender,
(e) to make the offender accountable for his or her actions,
(f) to denounce the conduct of the offender,
(g) to recognise the harm done to the victim of the crime and the community.
Every state and territory in Australia has a very similar provision.
The head sentence of 26 years combined with the 18-year non-parole period certainly fulfills the purposes of (a), (b) (e) (f) and (g). In terms of (e) specifically, it is interesting that Justice McCallum made the following remark:
There can be no finding of remorse as a mitigating factor, having regard to Mr Gittany’s denial of guilt and his steadfast refusal to accept responsibility for his conduct
Hard to disagree there. In terms of Gittany’s prospects of rehabilitation (d), Justice McCallum made it clear that she had a negative opinion:
Justice McCallum said Gittany showed no remorse and had a low chance of rehabilitation.
“It appears to be an arid prospect,” she said.
Finally, the long sentence ensured that the community will be protected from Gittany for a long time, which goes to aim (c) above. Whilst we cannot bring Lisa Harnum back to life, we can protect other women who would be interested in forming relationships within him, including his current girlfriend Rachelle Louise.
On a side note, it is interesting to see that Justice McCallum rejected the prosecution’s depiction of Gittany as “cold and calculating”. I agree with her finding that Gittany was instead just overcome by rage. Justice McCallum also rejected Gittany’s complaints about the media scrutiny, finding instead that he and his girlfriend had courted media attention.
Justice has been served.
A good article by Mia Freedman about the infamous Rachelle Louise interview. I must say I feel sorry for the poor woman. She deserves better than to be hoping in vain that Gittany will get out of jail in the next decade.