Murder victim recounts cleaner's attack

·3-min read

Ninety-two-year-old Marjorie Welsh wished to make her home killer-proof because of a savage attack by her cleaner that ultimately led to her death.

In a recorded interview shortly after being stabbed and bludgeoned by Hanny Papanicolaou on January 2, 2019, Ms Welsh said the attack had robbed her of her "dream world" of feeling comfortable and happy within her home.

"I wouldn't trust anyone anymore. I'm having special gates when I'm back. I'm just making it thief-proof, killer-proof," she said.

In the interview, Ms Welsh is seen cut and bruised in a hospital bed less than a week after being attacked by Papanicolaou. Ms Welsh died six weeks after the attack in her Sydney inner west home.

Ms Welsh's daughters Angela MacLeod and Elizabeth Welsh were watching on at a Supreme Court sentencing hearing on Friday, with Ms Welsh breaking down in sobs when her mother's interview was played.

In February Papanicolaou was found guilty of the murder of her client Ms Welsh who was stabbed multiple times with a knife and bludgeoned with her walking sticks and fine china.

Papanicolaou had been working at Ms Welsh's house as a cleaner for a year before the attack.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Taylor said Papanicolaou, 38, intended to kill Ms Welsh because she did not want to be seen breaking into her client's home in an attempted robbery.

A sufficient sentence was required as a deterrent so senior citizens could live their lives without fear of violence, Mr Taylor said on Friday.

As a vulnerable person who had difficulty moving or seeing, Ms Welsh was forced to the ground by Papanicolaou, who snatched her mobile phone out of her hands and unplugged a violent fall alarm from the wall.

"This was a savage and sustained attack by a young woman upon a much older woman with the use of no less than a knife to penetrate multiple times the chest and abdomen of the deceased," Mr Taylor said.

Papanicolaou's lawyers claim she intended to cause grievous bodily harm rather than murder.

Her legal team also argues she was suffering from major depressive disorder, including post-natal depression from a premature birth, at the time of the attack.

"So much of Ms Papanicolaou's life has been lived without any acts of violence. She's managed to do many pro-social things. She's got plenty of incentive to reform," said her barrister Tom Quilter.

Mr Quilter said while his client would spend years in jail, she deserved a shorter sentence because she had been assaulted while in prison after being seen on television over the murder trial.

Speaking outside court, Ms MacLeod welcomed remarks that senior citizens deserved to feel safe within their home as a sanctuary.

Ms MacLeod called her mother's video interview confronting, but said she was amazed her mother could still be herself at such a time.

"Mum was someone who could achieve anything she wanted to in life. Life wasn't always perfect for mum ... but she was strong, intelligent, loving, protective, all those things that you'd want in a mum. We were always very proud of her," she said.

Justice Robertson Wright did not hand down a prison sentence immediately but will do so at a later date.

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