NSW cleaner 'savagely' beat elderly woman

Greta StonehouseAAP
A cleaner is on trial charged with murdering her 92-year-old client in her Sydney home.
Camera IconA cleaner is on trial charged with murdering her 92-year-old client in her Sydney home. Credit: AAP

A 92-year-old woman was stabbed and beaten with her walking sticks and fine china by her usually "charming" house cleaner who she said suddenly turned "utterly ferocious", a murder trial has been told.

Hanny Papanicolaou, 38, is charged with murdering her client of one year, Marjorie Welsh, in her inner western Sydney home on January 2, 2019.

The elderly woman died six weeks later in hospital but not before giving two police interviews where she named her assailant as "Hanny the housekeeper" and described the savage attack in detail.

Papanicolaou pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind, but this was rejected by the Crown.

Prosecutor Christopher Taylor told the NSW Supreme Court jury in his opening address on Monday that the cleaner was a regular gambler.

On the morning of January 2, she lost $430 from poker machines in under an hour, and was left with just $11 in her bank account.

She jumped the back fence of Ms Welsh's property about 10.15am.

Later from a stretcher in hospital while Ms Welsh was being wheeled into surgery she told police what happened next.

"She greeted me as she usually does most affectionately," the Crown says the conscious and lucid woman recalled.

"I've never seen anything else but kindness from her.

"She stood back and this, from smiling, she became an absolute dynamo."

After the beating with her stick "every which way," she lay on the ground while the cleaner forcefully hurled china down upon her.

"And I'm saying 'why Hanny why' ... not a word. And then she went back to beating me with the stick.

"I don't know how many times, she was utterly ferocious."

At some point Papanicolaou used a knife from the cutlery drawer to stab Ms Welsh six times in the lower chest and abdomen, Mr Taylor said.

Ms Welsh remembered her emergency medical alarm around her neck, and pressed the button while Papanicolaou stole her cordless phone and "bolted" back to her car.

She suffered multiple deep bleeding lacerations to her muscles and small intestines, fractures around her eyes, cheekbones and nose, and other serious injuries.

Papanicolaou from Indonesia returned to her Australian husband "upset" before leaving and was arrested that same day.

She has disputed her employer's version of events, saying Ms Welsh accused her of stealing $50 before she was attacked with the walking stick.

She explained the ceramic plates had "fallen off the table" and landed on the woman's face due to the scuffle, and that it was Ms Welsh who held the knife and was "stabbing backwards," while she held her.

"In effect, the accused was saying that it was Ms Welsh who was stabbing herself, while the accused was trying to hold her arm," Mr Taylor said.

"The crown position is that none of these claims are true," he said, adding that Papanicolaou offered police no explanation as to why she had stolen the phone.

The Crown says that Papanicolaou intended to ask or steal money from Ms Welsh after previously learning she had sold her Box Hill acreage for $8 million, in order to be closer to her daughters.

In another hospital interview Ms Welsh said it was a case of: "God, what, it can't be happening ... anyhow, I bleated as I stood there being knocked which way.

"When I fell over and begged I can hear myself saying 'no more Hanny'."

She said the pair had never had any disagreements before, nor could she think of what prompted the attack.

The trial continues.

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