Cleaner who allegedly stabbed 92-year-old woman says she acted in ‘self-defence’

The family of a 92-year-old Sydney woman found with stab wounds and pieces of pottery embedded in her scalp are hopeful she will regain her independence after a broke cleaner allegedly attacked her at home.

Police allege Hanny Papanicolaou gambled all of her money away on the morning of January 2 before arriving two days ahead of schedule and without equipment at the Ashbury home of her client of one year, Marjorie Welsh.

The 35-year-old is charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Her alleged victim remains in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in a serious condition with seven torso wounds, a punctured lung, nicked bowel, multiple fractures and lacerations.

“There was an element of planning … (and) it was committed for, potentially, financial gain,” Sergeant Ernest Chan told Burwood Local Court on Wednesday.

The police prosecutor said the “frenzied attack” on the “barely mobile” woman was vicious and unprovoked.

Hanny Papanicolaou, 35, was charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following the alleged attack. Source: 7News
Papanicolaou is a gambling addict and had spoken to Ms Welsh about her financial status and the sale of a property, he said.

But the married Indonesian citizen, who has lived in Australia for a decade, says she acted in self defence.

“It is claimed by the accused that a 92-year-old woman with mobility issues … threatened her with the cane which caused her to injure her ankle,” Sgt Chan said.

He said Papanicolau’s evidence is she got up and broke the cane across her knee but Ms Welsh armed herself with a knife.

Papanicolaou walked behind her, grabbed the knife and stabbed her, the prosecutor said.

He said she has admitted to arriving “unannounced” with “no money in her bank account”, and to later throwing Ms Welsh’s landline phone over a fence before discarding the knife and her clothes.

The elderly woman was stabbed in her Ashbury home. Source: 7News
Barrister James Trevallion applied for bail, arguing Papanicolaou could be in custody for two years before a trial and her family will suffer “irreversible damage” without her.

He submitted the prosecution’s case for attempted murder was “weak”.

But magistrate Louise McManus refused release.

She was “not satisfied” any measures could be imposed, such as a $45,000 surety, sufficient enough to mitigate Papanicolaou’s risk to her alleged victim or any witness interference.

Emergency services were called to Ms Welsh’s home after a personal panic alarm was activated at 10.45am.

“(She) appeared to have pieces of blue pottery embedded to the rear of her scalp,” Sgt Chan said, adding the woman was heavily bleeding but semi-conscious and allegedly told police “the cleaner did it”.

Police believe the 35-year-old had a gambling addiction which may have led to the alleged attack. Source: 7News
Ms Welsh’s family gasped as the allegations were detailed in court, including that Papanicolaou used a walking stick, knife and various kitchen crockery to wound the 92-year-old who lived alone.

“It’s going to be a very long process and we just hope that she can get to the stage where she was enjoying life and her independence beforehand,” her son-in-law, Graham Greene, told reporters outside court.

Sgt Chan said: “In her own words, she said ‘I will never be the same’.”

Papanicolaou’s charges each carry a maximum jail term of 25 years. Her case returns to court on March 6.

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