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How trusted cleaner’s life fell apart before she brutally bashed her 92-year-old client with a cane

A trusted cleaner who brutally killed her 92-year-old client struggled with a gambling addiction and gave birth prematurely.

Hanny Papanicolaou, 39, climbed the fence of Marjorie Welsh’s home in Ashbury, in the inner west of Sydney, before attacking the elderly woman on January 2, 2019.

Mrs. Welsh wasn’t expecting her cleaning lady, but welcomed her with a smile just minutes before Papanicolaou started beating her with her own stick.

She beat her elderly client until the stick broke – forcing her to look for another – before throwing several ceramic pots at Mrs Welsh and taking a knife from a drawer.

Marjorie Welsh (pictured) was brutally beaten and then fatally stabbed on 2 January 2019 by her trusted cleaner at her home in Ashbury in Sydney's inner west.

Marjorie Welsh (pictured) was brutally beaten and then fatally stabbed on 2 January 2019 by her trusted cleaner at her home in Ashbury in Sydney’s inner west.

Hanny Papanicolaou (pictured) climbed up Mrs. Welsh's back fence and surprised her in the garden minutes before starting to beat her client with a stick

Hanny Papanicolaou (pictured) climbed up Mrs. Welsh’s back fence and surprised her in the garden minutes before starting to beat her client with a stick

Papanicolaou stabbed the 92-year-old several times in the chest and abdomen while Mrs Welsh – who survived the attack – described her attacker as “utterly savage”.

She only stopped after the older woman thought to activate a medical alert chain that her family had set up for her several weeks earlier.

Startled by the loud siren, Papanicolaou grabbed the knife she had used to stab the elderly woman and fled Ashbury’s house in her car. the Australian reports.

Ms Welsh was left for dead with several fractures, deep cuts to her abdomen and severe bruising that forced her to spend countless days in intensive care.

Her devastated family and hospital staff agreed her chances of recovering from the brutal attack were slim and she was given morphine.

Ms Welsh gave two police interviews while in hospital, calling her attacker ‘Hanny the housekeeper’ and describing the harrowing attack in detail.

When asked if she could think of a reason for the attack, she replied, “It would be a peace of mind if I could.”

“There are usually logical reasons for things that happen in this world, but I don’t see any logic in this.”

Papanicolaou (pictured) stabbed the 92-year-old several times in the chest and abdomen before fleeing Ashbury's home and sending a series of text messages to her husband

Papanicolaou (pictured) stabbed the 92-year-old several times in the chest and abdomen before fleeing Ashbury’s home and sending a series of text messages to her husband

The elderly woman also spoke of making her home “killer proof” with “special gates”, not knowing she would never return to her beloved “dream world” home.

The 92-year-old died six weeks after the attack at Balmain Hospital.

Papanicolaou was found guilty of murder by the NSW Supreme Court in February and sentenced to: 22 years with a non-parole period of 15 years on May 27.

What her client had not known was that her cleaner lost $400 in the slots at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL club before she unexpectedly showed up.

Papanicolaou was a regular gambler, but made sure the habit never stopped her family from paying for the essentials.

She later told the court that by gambling I “made myself calm.”

On this particular summer morning, she withdrew money from an ATM several times and left shortly after draining her bank account for the measly $11.76.

Money was a controversial issue in her marriage after husband Nick, 53, was fired from his job in the telecommunications industry.

The cleaner had spent several hours in the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL club slots (pictured) and lost $400. Papanicolaou left the RSL with just $11.76.

The cleaner had spent several hours in the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL club slots (pictured) and lost $400. Papanicolaou left the RSL with just $11.76.

She also recently gave birth prematurely, with her lawyer stating that at the time of the attack there were “known patterns for a vulnerability that causes a depressive order.”

The cleaner had only slept four hours the night before and was tossing and turning in the summer heat after her air conditioning broke.

Papanicolaou left the RSL around 10am and drove to Peace Park, a patch of greenery adjacent to Mr Welshs’ backyard.

She decided to jump over the fence and was greeted lovingly by her elderly client, who was utterly unprepared for the vicious attack that was soon to follow.

In the hours after the attack, Ms Welsh told police that her cleaning lady was always “charming” and that she really believed they were friends.

She sent her husband a series of disturbing texts after she fled the house in Ashbury, saying: 'Please, I'm dying, I think it's better for me' (photo, a mock-up of the lyrics)

She sent her husband a series of disturbing texts after she fled the house in Ashbury, saying: ‘Please, I’m dying, I think it’s better for me’ (photo, a mock-up of the lyrics)

Pictured is the crime scene at Mrs Welsh's Ashbury home where she was brutally beaten by a woman she invited and trusted to her home

Pictured is the crime scene at Mrs Welsh’s Ashbury home where she was brutally beaten by a woman she invited and trusted to her home

Papanicolaou introduced the 92-year-old to her youngest child who had been given $50 from her older client.

The couple often chatted while Papanicolaou cleaned the house and Papanicolaou later described Mrs Welsh as a ‘beautiful woman’.

She sent her husband a series of disturbing text messages after she fled the house in Ashbury.

“Please, I’m dying, I think it’s better for me,” read one message.

Another read: ‘You’ll never believe me again, please. You will never believe me forever. I better die. Please take care of the children, I am sick of this life. Sorry, deep in my heart.’

In May, Judge Robertson Wright said the murder was “unplanned and impulsive” and found that the cleaner wanted money from the house to cover gambling losses.

He found that Papanicolaou was not suffering from a major depressive illness at the time, but did have some symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Mrs Welth and Papanicolaou (pictured) often chatted as she cleaned the house with the younger woman who Mrs Welsh later described as a 'beautiful woman'

Mrs Welth and Papanicolaou (pictured) often chatted as she cleaned the house with the younger woman who Mrs Welsh later described as a ‘beautiful woman’

“Death was a great human tragedy, especially for her family and for everyone else affected by this sad case,” he said.

The judge found that the cleaner planned to rob and then murder her elderly client.

Angela MacLeod, one of her two daughters, previously said that their mother was someone who could achieve anything she wanted in life.

“Life wasn’t always perfect for Mom… but she was strong, intelligent, loving, protective, all those things you would want in a mother,” she said.

“We were always very proud of her.”

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