Greek pilot Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, initially claimed a gang of foreign robbers killed British-born Caroline Crouch and hung their pet dog from the bannister after storming their Athens home in May last year
Image: Babis Anagnostopoulos/Instagram)
A Greek pilot who confessed to killing his British wife has told a court “he still loves her” on the first day of his murder trial.
Babis Anagnostopoulos initially claimed a gang of foreign robbers killed Caroline Crouch and hung the family’s pet dog, Roxy, from the bannister after storming their Athens home in May last year.
Ms Crouch, 23, was found dead with the couple’s young daughter beside her, before cops discovered Anagnostopoulos tied up under the bed.
Greek police initially launched a manhunt for the robbers but soon turned their attention to Anagnostopoulos due to inconsistencies in his story and he was eventually arrested.
He then confessed to killing his wife – which happened in-front of their 11-month-old daughter. The pilot admitted to the killing but maintains that it was a ‘crime of passion’ after she threatened to divorce him.
During the first day of his trial in Athens today, he told judges: “I loved her and I still love her. That is never going to change.”
He added: “It was never my aim to hurt my wife. I loved her and I love her.
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“That never changed and from the day I met her it will never change.”
The pilot is facing a lengthy prison sentence for premeditated murder, animal abuse and lying to cops to implicate others.
He insists the crime wasn’t planned or pre-meditated but happened when he was in a “blurred state of mind”.
He says he killed her after an argument in which she threatened to divorce him because she suspected he was having an affair.
The jury also heard a harrowing and sickening report from the coroner who examined Ms Croucher’s body as she lay lifeless on the couple’s bed.
Chara Spiliopoulou detailed how the Brit student died over the course of five agonising minutes after being attacked while sleeping in bed.
Ms Spiliopoulou said it was clear the victim had been startled at the time of the attack.
She told the court: “There were no signs of struggle before death because she was taken by surprise.”
The pilot, 33, used his bare hands to end his wife’s life by cutting off her air passages, but also used a pillow to stifle any noise, Ms Spiliopoulou claimed.
“The picture I had was that someone had put their hand in her mouth and then the pillow was used so nothing could be heard,” she told the court, explaining that Crouch’s pulse had shot up during the course of the attack.
“I estimate that death took roughly five minutes … she was tortured.”
The coroner went on to discuss the horrific sights and smells left in the Athens maisonette after Anagnostopoulos allegedly hung the couple’s pet dog from the bannister to make the robbery more realistic.
By the time police arrived the only person not tied up was the couple’s daughter who was lying silently by her mother’s side.
The long-awaited trial comes ten months after Anagnostopoulos admitted killing his wife on May 11, 2021.
For nearly six weeks he tried to convince police that a gang of foreign criminals had murdered Crouch, 21 and enrolled at a local university, during a bungled break-in of the couple’s suburban home.
From the start the pilot put on a show, according to police officers, who were first to arrive at the scene of the crime.
When the 33-year-old was found lying under the bed, with his feet and hands bound and duct tape across his mouth and eyes, he immediately started behaving strangely, cops testified this morning.
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“When the accused was untied, he sat on the bed and started to touch the woman,” said policeman Christos Varnikos. “He shook her and asked my love are you OK?”
Kleanthis Antonopoulos said in 20 years of police duty he had never seen a victim behave so oddly.
“He was just so unbelievably cool,” he told the court.
“It was as if his wife hadn’t died. We were together for three to four hours and not once did he say ‘what’s happened to me, I’ve lost my wife.’ It’s the first time in 20 years that I have seen a victim being so cool.”
Anagnostopoulos’ defence revolves around the murder having happened in the heat of the moment.
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The Crouch’s family lawyer told the Daily Mirror last week: “He will do everything to convince the court that her death wasn’t pre-meditated so he can have his sentence reduced.
“But on our side there is optimism that justice will be serviced. He also faces the prospect of a long sentence for killing Caroline’s puppy.”
Under a new law passed in Greece last year Anagnostopoulos, who also confessed to using a leash to hang the family’s pet dog Roxy from the bannister of the masionette, could face up to ten years in prison for unprovoked animal abuse.
Almost a year on, the pilot has shown no remorse for a murder that sent shockwaves through Greece and abroad.
When asked by a court official what his status was on Friday he described himself cooly as being “married and a widow.” His lawyers say they have even lined up defence witnesses to testify to “his good character.”
“People from [the couple’s] wider social circle will testify,” Papaioannides said.
Angeliki Gerolymatou was also among witnesses called to testify on Tuesday.
Holding back tears, she described how the young Brit had been left alone, isolated in the suburban maisonette, often without enough money to go to the supermarket by her husband
“She was closed in that house for days … he was very controlling,” said Gerolymatou, who lived in the maisonette next door and whose family had initially comforted the pilot when they believed him to be a genuinely grieving widow.
“She definitely felt a bit cut off from her friends. She had told me of her desire to go out and have a drink with a friend of hers. Caroline did not go out often … it was once every so often.”
Ms Crouch, the daughter of a retired oil executive who was raised on the Greek island of Alonissos, met the older pilot as a teen and is now buried on the island she grew up on.