The Greek husband of Caroline Crouch, the young British woman who was murdered in front of her baby daughter, hugged and comforted her mother at a memorial ceremony, but then confessed to the killing just hours later.
Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, a helicopter pilot, was photographed hugging Ms Crouch’s mother at the ceremony on the Aegean island of Alonissos, where his wife had grown up.
Ever since the murder took place in the couple’s home in the Athens suburb of Glyka Nera last month, he had maintained that his 20-year-old wife was killed by a gang of robbers.
He claimed that they strangled her with her own blouse and stole €15,000 in cash. He said he had begged the raiders, armed with guns, not to harm their 11-month-old daughter.
But hours after the ceremony, he was flown by police helicopter to Athens, where after a six-hour interrogation he confessed to the murder.
He said he had argued with Ms Crouch and that she had threatened to leave him and take their baby daughter with her. He had lost his temper and strangled her, then tried to stage the robbery.
On Friday, he appeared in court in Athens and was charged with murder as well as animal abuse.
The second charge related to the fact that he killed the family’s pet dog, another element with which he hoped to convince police that Ms Crouch had been killed by a brutal gang of thieves.
He was also charged with several counts of perjury and false accusation.
Police began to suspect him husband after finding inconsistencies between his account of the supposed burglary and timings found on his mobile phone and a smartwatch worn by Ms Crouch.
Nikos Rigas, the deputy chairman of the police officers’ association of Athens, told state TV that examination of mobile phones, the smartwatch and cameras had established a timeline that revealed inconsistencies in his story.
“(The suspect) tried to create a crime scene environment that looked convincing: the dog was killed, and his baby was placed next to the body of the murdered mother.”
The helicopter pilot, 33, admitted to killing his wife after she had threatened to leave him and take their baby daughter with her
There was anger on the island of Alonissos after it emerged that Anagnostopoulos had confessed to the murder.
“For us, Babis is also dead after what he did,” said local councillor, Hariklia Theodorou.
She said that at the memorial ceremony on Thursday, just hours before his story unraveled, she had watched him comfort Ms Crouch’s mother, who is originally from the Philippines.
“They hugged tightly and cried,” she told Greek television.
Ms Crouch’s mother and father, who is British, had been supportive of Anagnostopoulos in the weeks after her killing and apparently believed his claim that their daughter had died as a result of a burglary that had turned horribly violent.
Student Caroline Crouch with her husband Babis Anagnostopoulos who has now confessed to killing her
That fiction collapsed on Thursday night when Greek police put out a statement confirming that Anagnostopoulos had admitted to the crime.
“The culprit is her 33-year-old husband who has confessed to the act," the statement said.
Police described him as an accomplished “actor” who had kept up his charade as the heartbroken widower for more than a month.
Anagnostopoulos allegedly told police during his confession: “That night we had been arguing from early on. At some point, she threw the child in her cot and she told me to get up and leave the house.
“She pushed me and punched me. My judgement became blurred, I strangled her and then I staged the robbery.”
Anagnostopoulos is unlikely to be given bail – given that he is a pilot he is seen as a significant flight risk.
The murder of Ms Crouch shocked Greece and the government swiftly offered a reward of €300,000 for anyone who could help find the supposed gang of robbers.
In a post on Instagram on May 16, just a few days after the murder, Anagnostopoulos uploaded a photograph of the couple on a trip to Portugal, writing: “Always together. Farewell, my love.”