Greek pilot jailed for murdering British wife ‘fears contract killing’

The Greek helicopter pilot given a life sentence for the brutal murder of his British wife in Athens last year claims to be living in fear of those he initially blamed for the crime.

Weeks after being found guilty of suffocating Caroline Crouch, Babis Anagnostopoulos has said his own life is in danger because he has become the target of a “contract killing”.

In a written submission arguing that he should remain in the capital’s top-security Korydallos prison, the 34-year-old said he had learned from fellow inmates of “a huge amount of money” being offered for his life. “From the above it has emerged there is a ‘contract killing’ against me,” he was quoted as saying by the Greek TV channel Star on Saturday.

The horrific way in which Crouch, 20, was killed as she lay asleep in the couple’s suburban maisonette, meters away from their baby daughter, sent shockwaves through Greece. In a rare step the government announced a €300,000 bounty to unearth the perpetrators.

For 37 days, Anagnostopoulos presented himself as a heartbroken widow, pinning the murder on ruthless “Albanian or Georgian thieves” who had broken into the house.

The cover-up, which included strangling Caroline’s pet dog, was exposed only when expert analysis of the smartwatch the Briton had been wearing and data on the Greek pilot’s mobile phone revealed inconsistencies in his own version of events.

But while he eventually admitted to killing his wife, suspects were put through gruelling interrogations after reportedly being identified in police lineups by the UK-trained aviator.

One, a 43-year-old Georgian accused of being a member of a criminal gang behind similar robberies in the area, described how he had endured four days of torture by Greek police officers bent on extracting a confession from him.

Following his transfer on Monday to Malandrinos prison in the central Greek region of Fokida, the pilot’s lawyer, Alexandros Papaioannidis told the Observer there was no doubt his client’s life was in danger.

“He would be much safer in Korydallos,” the attorney said, adding that Anagnostopoulos had been threatened by a Georgian prisoner who wanted to kill him in January.

“Conditions in Malandrinos are very difficult. The vast majority of inmates are foreign and they are hardened criminals. We have requested that he be returned to Korydallos for humanitarian and security reasons.”

During a six-week trial before a mixed jury court in Athens, Anagnostopoulos, who has moved fast to lodge an appeal against his life sentence, was repeatedly described as narcissistic and controlling.

The psychiatrist Alchestis Igoumenakis, who was among the defense witnesses, said it was clear the defendant was suffering from severe antisocial personality disorder that had not only left him with feelings of superiority and an inability to empathise but had made him capable of committing similar crimes.

Following the court’s verdict, the Crouch family’s lawyer, Thanassis Haramanis, said while Caroline’s distraught parents had cause to feel vindicated it was evident Anagnostopoulos, who addressed the tribunal for a marathon ten hours, felt little remorse for his actions.

Coroners have described the Briton’s death as agonising, saying it required more than five minutes of sustained suffocation by her husband to “drain her of life.”

Last week the convicted killer acknowledged he had ambitions of being an attorney, telling prison authorities he wanted to sit exams to enter law school.

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