A Greek helicopter pilot who claimed he killed his British wife, Caroline Crouch, 20, in a fit of anger after a row that had “blurred” his senses, has been found guilty of murder at the end of a trial watched closely in Greece and abroad.
The seven-member mixed tribunal of judges and jurors unanimously concluded that Babis Anagnostopoulos was guilty of premeditated murder and perverting the course of justice. He also killed the family’s dog.
The UK-trained aviator, who attempted to cover up his wife’s death as the result of a bungled break-in of their suburban Athens maisonette on 11 May last year – a line of defense he maintained for nearly six weeks – was expressionless as the verdict was announced.
The court ruled the 34-year old should receive the toughest penalty possible, life in prison supplemented by an 11-and-a-half month jail term he must also serve. A fine of €21,000 (£17,800) was also imposed.
At the request of the defendant’s lawyer the Athens court recessed to consider if mitigating circumstances, such as the good behavior he has displayed in pre-trial detention in the high-security Korydallos prison, should be taken into account. But judges and jurors rejected the application.
Earlier on Monday the public prosecutor, Eugenia Stathopoulou, said all the facts pointed to the murder being cold-blooded and planned.
“He was in a calm psychological state… aware of his senseless brutality,” she said, before invoking a coroner’s report to reject the defense’s claim that Crouch had been awake at the time of her murder and that the crime had been provoked. “The facts are self-evident … and leave no doubt that he is responsible for the actions of which he has been accused.”
It was only fair, she said, that the helicopter pilot – the son of a civil engineer and school teacher – be put behind bars for life, the toughest penalty that can be meted out for crimes of such magnitude in Greece.
Anagnostopoulos, who met Crouch as a teenager on the island of Alonissos where she was raised, had argued the Briton was given to “outbursts of anger”, especially after giving birth to their daughter, Lydia.
In an effort to make the crime appear more credible he killed his wife’s adopted puppy and placed the 11-month-old child next to her dead mother’s body.
He then notified the police – allegedly making the emergency call with his nose – after binding his feet and hands with duct tape in a further attempt to make the robbery “by a gang of foreign thieves” seem more realistic.
“His aim was to confuse authorities and he won 37 days [of freedom],” the prosecutor said, before the court’s ruling. “If there is one common trait to all his crimes of him, it is that the accused underestimated the intelligence of others.”
The court unanimously rejected Anagnostopoulos’s attempt to present the murder as a “crime of passion” that might have resulted in a reduced penalty.
Appealing for the maximum term possible before the verdict, Athanasios Haramis, the lawyer representing Crouch’s retired oil executive father and Filipina mother, described Anagnostopoulos as “a multitalented actor” who thought he had pulled off the “perfect crime” for which he remained shamelessly unrepentant .
Stathopoulou told the court it was indisputable that Anagnostopoulos had suffocated his wife with a pillow while lying on top of her during an unprovoked attack while she was asleep.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism