Cleaner who allegedly murdered 92yo didn't look deranged: court

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A cleaner accused of murdering her elderly client did not look “deranged” just hours before the alleged violent incident inside the 92-year-old’s Sydney home, a court has been told.

Hanny Papanicolaou is standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court, where she has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Marjorie Welsh in early 2019.

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Her mental state is playing a central role in the trial.

Ms Welsh died after she was attacked inside her Ashbury home. She was found lying face down in a pool of blood and with pieces of crockery embedded in her skull.

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She was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery but died six weeks later as a result of her injuries, which included a collapsed lung, lacerations and broken bones.

Ms Papanicolaou is accused of attacking her client with a walking stick and crockery as well as stabbing her in the stomach with a kitchen knife.

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Cleaner who allegedly murdered 92yo didn’t look deranged: court

Camera IconHanny Papanicolaou has pleaded not guilty to murder. Credit: Supplied

The Indonesian national has pleaded not guilty to murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, arguing she was suffering an abnormality of the mind at the time and could not distinguish right from wrong.

The jury was on Friday played two key pieces of evidence in the crown prosecution case – a video of her playing the pokies at the Canterbury RSL before the incident and a snippet of her interview with police on the evening of January 2.

In her police interview at Sutherland police station, she claimed that Ms Welsh had accused her of stealing $50 and attacked her with a walking stick, resulting in a physical altercation.

“Because she was holding a knife I was just so scared,” Ms Papanicolaou said.

“I said, ‘Let go of your knife’.

“I grabbed her hand and I pushed her until she fell down … it was just so fast.”

She gave a detailed account to detectives; however, psychiatrist Dr Adam Martin said that when he interviewed the 38-year-old in June 2020, she claimed she “could not recall what had happened”.

“There’s a marked discrepancy and inconsistency … I can’t make sense of that. I don’t know how reliable her account of not remembering is,” Dr Martin said.

Cleaner who allegedly murdered 92yo didn’t look deranged: court

Camera IconThe cleaner says she was suffering from an abnormality of the mind at the time of the physical altercation. Supplied Credit: Supplied

When she was asked by an officer during her police interview whether she wished she had not taken part in a physical altercation with Ms Welsh and believed she went too far, she replied: “Yes.”

Dr Martin said it would be “unusual” for Ms Papanicolaou to at 10am be suffering from a mental disorder that prevented her from knowing the difference between right and wrong but to later that day express regret to police.

Before going to Ms Welsh’s house, Ms Papanicolaou played the poker machines at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL, with CCTV from the club on Friday played to the jury.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Taylor told the court that Ms Papanicolaou knew that Ms Welsh had come into $8m.

In the vision, Ms Papanicolaou drives into the club, sits at the poker machines and appears to be well-kept.

“She doesn’t look deranged, she doesn’t look mentally ill,” Dr Martin said.

“You can walk down the street or see someone in a pub, you can tell immediately that they are psychotic, out of touch with reality … And there is clearly no evidence of that.

“At least outwardly, she looks like she is functioning. She’s able to look after herself, she’s able to drive, she’s able to operate at a reasonable level.”

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