Helicopter pilot Babis Anagnostopoulos went through a charade of pretending that he didn’t know that his wife was dead and even poked her body and said ‘honey, are you ok?’ moments after police arrived at the couple’s marital home where he had staged a burglary, an Athens court heard today.
At the start of the second day of Anagnostopoulos’s high profile trial for the murder of Caroline Crouch, 19, police officer Christos Vardikos revealed how after entering the couple’s Athens home and making his way to an upstairs bedroom, he saw Caroline lying on a bed tied up while her baby Lydia was beside her, touching her body and staring silently.
The officer told the court that Anagnostopoulos was seated in a chair beside the bed with his hands tied in front of him and duct tape over his eyes and mouth.
He added: ‘The woman also had her arms tied behind her back with a piece of clothing. I first untied her and took the baby from on top of her.
‘As soon as the defendant was untied, the first thing he did was sit on the bed, poking the woman and asked: ‘Honey, are you OK?’
‘We told him that it’s over, she is dead. We could tell she was dead because she was all white and fluids had come out from the lower part of her body. In a chair next to her, the defendant’s legs and hands were tied at the front of his body. The baby was on its knees, its arms on its mother’s body. The baby was calm and silent.’
Helicopter pilot Babis Anagnostopoulos, escorted by armed police officers, is being led to court in Athens on Tuesday for the second day of his murder trial
The couple began dating when Caroline was still a teenager. They married in Portugal in 2019
Mr Vardikos revealed that after being untied and told that Caroline was dead, Anagnostopoulos asked to hug baby Lydia and attempted to consoler her, but police removed her from his arms because he was ‘rocking her too hard.’
He added: ‘We thought it was better to take the baby away from him and the scene because he was rocking her too hard. I held the baby and told Babis that he should call somebody to look after her.’
In addition to the murder of Caroline, Anagnostopoulos is also on trial for the murder of her pet dog Roxy and two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Following the killings, he concocted an elaborate ruse that they were the result of a botched burglary.
Anagnostopoulos does not deny the killings but denies murder, insisting that they were not ‘premeditated’ and that it was a ‘crime of passion’ caused by Caroline’s behaviour.
He faces life imprisonment for the murder of Caroline plus another ten years for the killing of Roxy.
Mr Vardikos revealed that after being untied and told that Caroline was dead, Anagnostopoulos asked to hug baby Lydia and attempted to consoler her, but police removed her from his arms because he was ‘rocking her too hard.’ Pictured: Caroline and Babis Anagnostopoulos
Caroline (left), Anagnostopoulos (right) and their baby daughter pose for a snap in May 2021
Mr Vardikos said that the first thing he saw when he entered the home was Roxy’s torso hanging from a bannister.
He said: ‘I heard a voice yelling for help. We moved into the house and saw a dog hanging from the bannister. That’s when I realised something was seriously wrong.
‘When we walked in the entire living room floor was covered with dog excrement.’
Mr Vardikos told the court that he and his colleague, Kleanthis Antonopoulos became suspicious of Antonopoulos’s story that burglars had stormed the house and killed Caroline because he was so calm and something ‘did not feel right.’
He said: ‘We told him not to touch her (Caroline), but he kept on poking her. It was as if he was acting. We were watching a man who was either in shock or had no concept of what was happening.
‘His whole behaviour was a bit weird and it seemed that he was too calm.’
He added: ‘In my 20 years of experience I have never come across anything like this. We were overpowered by what we saw, and it affected us emotionally. But I never thought that he had made the whole thing up at that stage.’
Mr Kleanthis added: ‘He reacted as if his wife wasn’t dead. His reactions were very cold, so calm to a point I have never seen before. We were more shocked than he was.
He added: ‘Antonopoulos and I were together for four hours and not once did he say, ‘my wife is dead.’ In all my time in the police, this is the first time that I ever saw a victim so calm and co-operative.
‘We were also very surprised at his lack of emotion when he saw the dog.’
A key part of Anagnostopoulos’s defence is that Caroline ‘triggered’ him into a ‘fit of rage’ after she violently pushed a crib in which their then 11-month-old daughter Lydia was sleeping.
While he has admitted to the killing, he maintains that it was a ‘crime of passion’ after she threatened to divorce him.
He insists that he killed Caroline’s dog Roxy after ‘panicking’ as he concocted a story on how she died.
A key part of Anagnostopoulos’s defence is that Caroline ‘triggered’ him into a ‘fit of rage’ after she violently pushed a crib in which their then 11-month-old daughter Lydia was sleeping
After suffocating Caroline last May as she slept Anagnostopoulos hanged Roxy from the bannister of their Athens home by his leash in an attempt to make his story more credible that burglars had burst in and murdered his wife and the pet she doted on.
Caroline’s body was discovered next to her 11-month-old baby Lydia while Roxy’s hanging torso was the first thing horrified police officers saw when they stormed the house after Anagnostopoulos alerted them, claiming gun-wielding gangsters had made off with cash and jewellery.
Anagnostopoulos, a helicopter pilot, kept up the pretence of the ‘grieving husband’ for more than a month and publicly spoke about the botched burglary story.
He was picked up by police last June after attending his wife’s memorial service on the island of Alonnisos, where she grew up, and confessed to the crime a few days later.
Greek police arrested him after they found no trace of the gang he claimed had tied him up, suffocated his wife and stole €15,000 (£13,000) in cash plus jewellery.
They became suspicious when data collected from a fitness tracker on Caroline’s wrist showed her heart had stopped beating before the alleged break-in took place – and data from other technical devices highlighted discrepancies.
There will be nine prosecution witnesses, including Susan Dela Cuesta, Caroline’s mother, a therapist who Caroline was seeing with her husband, their former next-door neighbour, the coroner, three police officers and some childhood friends of Caroline.
Anagnostopoulos is relying on six witnesses, including his parents and some friends to help him prove his case that he acted in the ‘heat of the moment.’
He also claims Caroline became more aggressive after suffering a miscarriage.