Last week, Greek helicopter pilot Babis Anagnostopoulos stood in the dock of an Athens court and recounted the circumstances that led him to suffocate his British wife. Over the course of 10 hours, it barely stopped. Cool and calm, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., he addresses the court.
He remembered the dream life he had shared with the woman he was about to asphyxiate; his decision to smother his beloved pup, Roxy, by hanging the pet dog from the railing of the couple’s playhouse; his love for his baby girl, whom he would place next to his dead mother’s body; and his determination in a moment of “chaos” to cover up the murder as a robbery gone horribly wrong.
Exactly one year to the day after the death of Caroline Crouch, her husband, who confessed to having killed her, was spending his day in court.
For observers, it was an extraordinary performance by a man determined to prove that, far from being premeditated, the murder of the 20-year-old was a crime of passion attributable solely to his “fuzzy state of mind”. .
Yet the pilot’s persistence also hinted at something else: he seemed to enjoy the courtroom drama, delivering lines that were both studied and well-rehearsed.
“It was testimony you rarely see and rarely hear,” said Giota Tessi, a court reporter who, sitting in full view of the bench, followed the proceedings throughout. “Yes, he was well-prepared and yes, he’s smart, but beyond that there was something else. His mastery of legal terminology, for example, was exceptional. If you hadn’t seen him utter those words, you would have thought it was a lawyer speaking.
From the outset, the 34-year-old was a different kind of defendant, she said. “He always seems to be looking for the cameras and then straight to them. He’s a narcissist, he loves attention.
On Monday, nearly six weeks after it began, the trial will come to an end and the seven-member tribunal is expected to announce a verdict. This will not be an ordinary outcome.
Few crimes have transfixed Greeks, like the murder of Crouch, the daughter of a retired oil executive and a Filipina mother whose body was found in the cottage on the outskirts of Athens on May 11. ‘last year.
In a coroner’s report, the student’s death was described as “excruciating”. The Briton, he said, was asleep when her killer struck. Obviously frightened, her pulse rose sharply in an attack that lasted at least five minutes.
Outrage over the crime prompted the government to announce a €300,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits.
For nearly six weeks, the UK-trained airman claimed his wife’s murder was the result of a failed burglary – a fiction whose every twist then made headlines as police tried to track down the ruthless gang of strangers who allegedly bound the pilot and killed the young mother.
It wasn’t until analysis of the smartwatch Crouch wore and data from his cellphone revealed inconsistencies in his version of events that investigators got the breakthrough they were looking for – and detained the pilot while attending a memorial at the grave. the island of Alonissos, where his wife had been brought up.
His confession, obtained after eight hours of police questioning, would leave Greeks and Crouch’s distraught parents stunned.
Testifying in the mixed court just hours before the defendant testified, psychiatrist Alchestis Igoumenakis argued that all the evidence pointed to the murder being premeditated.
“The defendant showed a lack of emotion and vanity,” she said, adding that she had no doubt that Anagnostopoulos suffered from a serious disorder of the mind. antisocial personality: “In narcissistic disorder, we have feelings of superiority and a lack of empathy. . He murders his wife, the mother of his child, and doesn’t understand that the child is going to hurt…the fact that he placed the baby next to her [dead] mother is particularly barbaric.
The pilot is also charged with the unprovoked death of an animal and perverting the course of justice – charges which, if proven, will increase the life sentence he almost certainly faces. But following his marathon testimony, his lawyer insisted that while the pilot expected punishment, the murder happened in the heat of the moment and, like all crimes of passion in Greece, should be treated with more leniency.
“Nobody will accept this argument because it dates so much from the last century,” retorted Maria Gavouneli, president of the Greek national human rights commission and professor of international law at the University of Athens.
“We are talking about a young woman, who had a very young baby, who died at the age of 20… once we have a defendant [in the dock] you have to let them talk, you don’t stop them. All my instincts tell me that was a testimonial that was repeated by a showman who treated him for all the right things and who appreciated him.
The murder not only laid bare an individual’s ability to deceive authorities, but also exposed the flaws in a society grappling with a wave of feminicides whose ferocity has stunned the nation. Crouch was one of 17 women whose lives were cut short by their partners in Greece in 2021.
Almost all of the victims – including a 43-year-old pharmacist who was strangled by her husband in a village outside Kavala last week – had, before her death, tried to end an abusive relationship.
Crouch was no different. Four years after meeting Anagnostopoulos – whose courtship included flying a helicopter over her school – the teenager described, in a handwritten diary that chronicled her fears, how her marriage fell apart in the amidst recriminations and quarrels with her very controlling partner.