First posted: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 04:05 PM EST | Updated: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 04:21 PM EST
The current girlfriend of an Australia man found guilty of throwing Canadian girlfriend Lisa Harnum off a balcony in 2011 told his sentencing hearing Wednesday that Simon Gittany is "the best boyfriend I have ever had."
Rachelle Louise took the stand and tearfully told court Gittany is "caring," "romantic" and that she will "stand by him until justice is served," The Daily Telegraph reported.
Before court started, Louise and other Gittany supporters staged a protest with placards questioning the evidence against Gittany and comparing him to people who were first convicted, then acquitted of murder, the paper reported.
Gittany, 40, pleaded not guilty of killing Harnum, 30, on July 30, 2011, and maintained his innocence on Wednesday.
"My entire life has been put up in front of not just Australia but the whole world," Gittany said. "I am charged with a crime that I did not commit. That in itself is a cross that is unbearable."
Harnum was planning on returning to Canada the morning she was killed.
In victim impact statements sent from her Ottawa home, Harnum's mother Joan wrote about the pain of losing her child.
"Now there is an empty chair, a beautiful missing face with an enormous smile in our photos and a family mourning the loss of a part of our family that can never be replaced."
Prosecutors told the judge there was new evidence the murder was premeditated and it should be considered for sentencing, which the judge didn't allow.
Canadian ballerina Lisa Harnum, who died after falling from the 15th floor of an apartment in Sydney, Australia, is pictured in this 2011 file photo. (REX/QMI Agency)
Australian who threw girlfriend off balcony described as 'best boyfriend' by new girlfriend | Canada | News | Toronto Sun