Bereavement > Accident/Murder

Hugged by Caroline's 'killer': Mother of murdered Brit Caroline Crouch is ....


Lost Soul:

Hugged by Caroline's 'killer': Mother of murdered Brit Caroline Crouch is consoled by her Greek son-in-law at memorial just hours before he admitted killing her in front of their baby and drowning their puppy as part of cover-up

    Babis Anagnostopoulos has confessed to the murder of wife Caroline Crouch
    Police say 33-year-old admitted smothering her to death when she threatened to leave him, before spending hours staging a burglary to hide his guilt
    But his story fell apart when data from Caroline's fitness tracker showed that her heart had stopped beating hours before the alleged break-in took place
    Babis was summoned for questioning while attending a memorial for his wife
    Video captured the moment he was led away, stopping to hug Caroline's mother

By Chris Pleasance and Nick Fagge and Jack Newman and Ross Ibbetson For Mailonline

Published: 09:22, 18 June 2021 | Updated: 11:16, 18 June 2021

This is the moment the husband of Caroline Crouch embraced her grieving mother during a memorial service for the murdered Briton, just hours before police say he admitted to being her killer.  Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, had been on the island of Alonissos where Caroline grew up on Wednesday to attend the service alongside her family when police suddenly summoned him away to discuss a 'breakthrough' in the case.  Video captured the moment Babis left, telling Caroline's family that he had been asked to identify a 'new suspect' that police had arrested.  In fact, the suspect that police wanted Babis to identify was himself - which he is said to have done after a marathon eight-hour interrogation which ended with him admitting to her murder.  Police announced late Thursday that Babis had confessed to smothering Caroline during a fight at their home in the early hours of May 11 after she threatened to leave him along with their baby daughter.  Detectives say he then concocted an elaborate story about a break-in and spent the pre-dawn hours staging the raid, including drowning the family's seven-month-old husky puppy and hanging its body from the stair banister - a gruesome act which he would later blame on the 'burglars'.  Babis's story had also included lurid allegations that three men had tied up him and his wife, threatened their infant daughter with a gun, strangled Caroline to death, then fled with 10,000 in a case which shocked Greece.  But detectives say his story fell apart when data collected from a fitness tracker on Caroline's wrist showed her heart had stopped beating hours before the alleged break-in took place.  More tracking data from Babis's phone also showed him moving from the attic to the basement of the house and back again, despite claiming to have spent all night tied to the bed.  And data from a security camera at the home showed its memory card had been removed at 1.20am again, hours before Babis claimed the break-in happened.   It was this evidence that prompted Greek police to drag the father away from his wife's memorial service, where he had been continuing to play the part of the grieving widower.  He was taken by boat to a neighbouring island before being loaded into a helicopter and flown back to Athens and it was during this journey that he seemed to grasp the truth of what police were up to, Protothema reports.  After arriving at police headquarters, Babis was taken to an interrogation room and seemed to understand that he was being questioned as a suspect rather than a witness, a senior officer said.  After a short opening exchange he is said to have snapped and told investigators: 'I killed her. I will tell you everything in detail.'

The senior officer said the confession came before cops had even presented Babis with the new evidence.  'He started talking because he realized we knew everything,' the officer said.

'It was as if he wanted to get it out of him to calm down. Then he bowed his head and stopped talking.'

The officer said Babis recounted the story of his relationship with Caroline, from their first meeting while he was on holiday in Alonissos to falling in love and then their marriage in 2018.  But he said their marriage had devolved into daily arguments driven by his fear that she was planning to leave him, which culminated in her ordering him out of the house and asking for a divorce on the night in question.  Babis is said to have told officers that he threw her down on the bed and pressed her face into a pillow until she passed out, before realising he had killed her.  He then drowned the family dog in an area outside the home and removed the CCTV memory card which he snapped and flushed down the toilet.  After his confession was over, police left Babis in the company of two psychologists and then announced his guilt to the world in a statement at 9.36pm local time on Thursday evening.  Babis said in his statement: 'That night we were fighting early. At one point she threw the child in the crib and told me to leave the house.  She pushed me and punched me. I lost my temper, I suffocated her with the pillow. Τhen I made up the robbery.'

However, police told Greek media that Babis had removed the CCTV's camera's memory card hours before the attack took place - suggesting them murder was pre-meditated and not done in the heat of the moment.  Officers told Protothema that the camera captured its last images shortly after midnight, as Babis sat on the sofa downstairs cradling his daughter and arguing over text with Caroline, who was upstairs.  They say the camera's memory card was removed at 1.20am while the argument was still ongoing, and which continued for another two hours and 40 minutes.  Then, at precisely 4.01am, Caroline fitness tracker captured an intense burst of heart activity, which is when they believe the couple came to blows.  The activity continued for another 10 minutes, until Caroline's heart stopped beating around 4.11 am.   Babis is now being held in custody in Athens and is expected to be hauled before a magistrate today when he will be formally charged with premeditated murder, animal abuse, and misleading investigators.  The confession comes five weeks after Babis led mourners at Ms Crouch's funeral and read a eulogy while standing over her grave.  'Our loved ones are the most important people to us all,' he said at the time wiping away tears while holding their baby daughter in his arms.  You should always look after your loved ones and enjoy your time together.'

On social media, the young couple appeared to enjoy a blessed life 20-year-old Caroline posting snaps of the couple with their daughter, or else showing off their idyllic-seeming life in Greece as she wandered on sunny beaches in bikinis.  The pair had met while Babis was on holiday to the Greek island of Alonissos where Caroline, who was born in the UK, had lived with her parents since the age of eight.  They were married in 2018, and she gave birth to their first child a daughter in June last year.  But a friend said last night that the idyllic images were a mirage in fact, Babis was a jealous and controlling husband and Caroline was deeply unhappy.  She could not have the time she wanted with her friends and she was constantly expressing her complaints about his behavior,' a source told Greek news site Ethnos. 

It was a fact that police had also uncovered during their investigation, after speaking with a psychologist who was treating both Babis and Caroline in separate sessions.  At the time, it was reported that Caroline was suffering from post-natal depression. Officers did not say what Babis was being treated for.   Texts found by police on the coupe's phones also reinforced suspicions of a less-than happy marriage, with police saying messages exchanged in English showed that one had called the other 'stupid.'  On the night of the murder, Caroline had allegedly messaged a friend saying that she was leaving Babis.  Phone data also showed that Caroline had attempted to book herself into a hotel on the night she died, detectives said.   Police also revealed on Thursday that officers had 'immediately' suspected Babis of committing the murder, after noticing his 'cold' demeanor when they arrived at the crime scene on the morning of May 11.  One officer even told how he took Babis's daughter away from him and handed the girl to her grandmother out of fear that he might harm the girl, Protothema reports.  But detectives agreed to pursue the burglary theory while keeping their suspicions about Babis under wraps to avoid 'spooking' him.  That included allowing him to attend Wednesday's memorial service with Caroline's family.  Hariklia Theodorou, a cafe owner who employed Babis before he changed careers to become a pilot, was at the service and recalled how he was weeping and looking at pictures of Caroline before the police arrived.  'I remember the look on his face, he was puzzled. He did not expect it,' she told Greek media.  'Hey guys, let me go to my wife's grave' he said, but they told him 'No, Babi, you have to follow us now, aman has been arrested who fits the characteristics of Caroline 's killer and we have to go there to identify him.' Babis did not object and followed them.'

His confession ends a month-long investigation into what authorities billed 'a near-perfect murder' for the lack of evidence the killer left behind.   Anagnostopoulos, who trained as a helicopter pilot in Liverpool, had married Miss Crouch in May 2018 after they met while he was on holiday to Alonissos.  Miss Crouch, a student at the University of Piraeus, had a British passport. She moved to Alonissos with her mother Susan Dela Cuesta and father David Crouch, 78, when she was eight.  Three days after her death, every shop, bar and restaurant on the island of Alonissos closed as its 2,000 residents laid to rest the British woman they had adopted as their own in a hilltop cemetery overlooking the Aegean.  Earlier, her killer had brazenly addressed the mourners from the altar of the island's Greek orthodox church.  Wiping away a crocodile tear, he told them: 'I was very lucky that I knew her and she loved me. I was very lucky for all the moments we had together.  One thing that makes me even more sad than her death is the fact that our daughter will grow up without remembering her beautiful mother, who was the joy of life, though our daughter will always be with me and with all of us.'

As the wife he'd killed was buried, Anagnostopoulos still clutching their infant daughter to his chest hugged Miss Crouch's distraught mother.  Anagnostopoulos spent 37 days expertly playing the part of the grieving widower, providing the police with a detailed account of the robbery and even descriptions of the intruders.  He claimed that three men had broken into the house through a downstairs window, disabling security cameras before strangling the family dog on their way upstairs to the couple's bedroom where they found them asleep.  Babis claimed he was blindfolded and gagged, then tied to a bedpost with his back towards Caroline, who was also restrained.  He said the men had somehow known the couple were keeping 10,000 in cash at the house, hidden inside a Monopoly box, which they had planned to use for building works on a new plot of land they had bought.  Babis said he quickly gave up the location of the money to avoid an altercation, but the men were not satisfied and began demanding more valuables.  Through a gap in his blindfold he claimed to have seen the men who he said spoke Greek to him but a foreign language among themselves point a gun at his baby daughter's head while making their threats.  That had caused Caroline to scream, he said, after which the burglars bundled her to the bed and suffocated her before fleeing the property and leaving him tied up.  He claimed to have spent hours in that position, before managing to free himself just enough to crawl to a phone and dial a neighbour's number with his nose.  The neighbour then summoned police, who arrived to find the grisly scene.  Police had initially pursued the burglary narrative, and even arrested a suspect a Georgian with a history of violent burglaries who tried to leave the country on a fake passport but failed to link him to the crime.  DNA evidence collected from underneath Caroline's fingernails as she fought her attacker has also proved to be inconclusive.  But the investigation now appears to have been a ruse, concocted so that Babis would remain calm and stay in Greece while they pursued him as the real suspect.  During that time, Babis had given several interviews to the media while allegedly playing the grieving husband telling reporters 'imagine how I feel' when questioned about the tragedy.  He was also frequently pictured with Caroline's parents, even hugging her mother at the funeral which took place last month.  Babis had also sat down for two lengthy interview session with police, sticking to his story about the break-in both times.  Suspicions around him only crept into public view a few weeks ago, when it emerged the police had interviewed the couple's therapist.  At the time, detectives said they had uncovered 'vital evidence' about Babis and Caroline's relationship that they believed would help solve the case.  Babis is expected to be formally charged with murder on Friday. It is unclear whether he will enter a plea at the same time.

Police 'suspected Babis from the moment they saw him and dubbed him the 'Greek Oscar Pistorius''

Police who were first on the scene of the 'break in' had suspected Babis was the real culprit from the moment they laid eyes on him, the chief of police has told Greek media.  George Kalliakmanis, president of police in Attica, said officers had compared Babis to a 'Greek Oscar Pistorius' the South African athlete convicted of shooting dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at their home in 2013, despite proclaiming his innocence.  He told Greek news site Protothema that detectives had immediately noticed the 'coldness' of Babis, adding that one officer had even taken his baby daughter away from him at the scene to 'protect' the girl.  Upon investigating the house, Mr Kalliakmanis said officers quickly uncovered signs the burglary had been staged saying that very few of the cupboards and wardrobes had been disturbed.  Typically, burglars will rip open every potential hiding place in search of valuables, Mr Kalliakmanis said.  But in this house, they appeared only to have searched in the places that Babis said valuables had been stored.  He added that officers had concealed their initial suspicions from Babis and pursued his burglary narrative to keep him calm, all the while believing the true suspect was much closer to home.

Babis 'based his fake break-in on real-life horrors suffered by one of his flight instructors'

It is a lurid and detailed tale: Three men speaking a foreign language break into a family home in the early hours, demand cash, threaten a baby with a gun, then strangle the wife and flee with 10,000.  This was the story concocted by Babis Anagnostopoulos, one which he delivered to detectives as they arrived at the home where Caroline Corouch lay dead on the morning of May 11.  Police now say the story was a fabrication - the elaborate break-in stage by Babis to hide his guilt. But how did he invent such a story?

According to one of Babis's former flight instructor, the helicopter pilot borrowed almost all the details from real-life horrors that he suffered two years prior.  The man, who spoke to Greek TV station ANT1 anonymously, said that he and his wife had also been attacked and tied up at their family home by a gang of robbers who demanded cash.  He said Babis's description of the gang leader being shorter than the other attackers matched his own experience, as did the claim of having seen the men after a blindfold slipped.  'The only difference was that we were attacked with clubs while Babis said he was attacked with pistols,' the man said.

The instructor said Babis would have heard the story from others at the airport, because he and his wife appealed for blood donations afterwards spreading the news among the staff.   He said that he had even gone to police to recount details of his raid after hearing Babis's story, believing the same men may have been to blame.  But following Babis's confession, he now suspects the 33-year-old used his story as the basis for his fabrication.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version