A Greek helicopter pilot who has admitted to killing his young British wife in front of their 11-month-old baby was met by crowds of protesters jeering “murderer” as he attended his first court hearing in Athens, days after making the confession.
Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, was driven to court in a police convoy amid a heavy security presence.
Flanked by several armed police officers, he wore a bulletproof vest. He appeared to show no emotion when angry onlookers yelled at him, calling him a “murderer” and saying they hoped he would “rot in jail” for what he had done.
He is accused of suffocating to death his 20-year-old wife, Caroline Crouch, after they argued in their home in an Athens suburb on May 11.
For more than a month, he maintained that the couple had been victims of a brutal robbery, saying that three armed raiders broke in, tied him up and gagged him and then suffocated to death his wife because she was crying out for help.
As part of the apparently staged break-in, he bound his own mouth with tape and even choked to death the family’s pet dog, in an attempt to prove the heartlessness of their alleged attackers.
But last week, hours after attending a memorial in honour of Ms Crouch on Alonissos, the island where she grew up, he confessed to killing her.
He was caught out by data taken by investigators from his mobile phone and her smartwatch, which they say revealed inconsistencies in his account of the supposed home invasion.
Information from the smartwatch, which recorded Ms Crouch’s heartbeat, suggested that it took Anagnostopoulos six minutes to strangle his wife to death.
Data from his mobile phone showed that he was moving around the house at the time when he claimed he had been trussed up.
He has been charged with counts of premeditated murder and animal abuse as well as providing false testimony and filing a false police report about the robbery.
Shortly before the court hearing started, one of his lawyers quit, citing “personal reasons” for his decision but offering no further explanation. There were reports that he had been dismissed by Anagnostopoulos.
The couple's baby daughter, Lydia, is set to be the subject of a custody battle
If convicted on all counts, he would face a life sentence. His lawyers are expected to argue that the murder was not premeditated but committed in the heat of the moment after a bitter row with Ms Crouch, whose father is British and mother Filipina.
Her parents said they want to look after their 11-month-old granddaughter, Lydia, who will be left without a parent if her father is sent to prison.
But they may face a challenge from the parents of Anagnostopoulos, who live in Athens.
“Both Susan and I will spend the rest of our lives making sure that justice is done and ensuring that her little daughter Lydia is brought up with all the advantages that we can give her and that the memories of her mother live forever,” Ms Crouch’s father, David, 78, told the Daily Mail.
Anagnostopoulos arrived at court wearing a bulletproof vest
Originally from Liverpool, he said his daughter had been “not just academically brilliant, she was also a wonderful sportswoman.
“From learning to swim at an early age, she went on to qualify as a scuba diver in open water diving – her only disappointment being that she couldn’t gain her instructor’s certificate because she was under 18 at the time.
“She competed in 10km road races here on the island and could run the legs off most of the boys of her age.”
The decision about which set of grandparents are awarded custody of Lydia is due to be made by a Greek court within 90 days.