Babis Anagnostopoulos, the Greek pilot accused of killing his British wife as she slept in their Athens home, had waited for his moment in court and, a year to the day after she took her last breath, he got it.
For almost 10 hours on Wednesday the UK-trained aviator stood in the dock relating the alleged events that led to the fatal moment on 11 May 2021 when he “lost control” and smothered Caroline Crouch, 20, to death with a pillow. The body of the couple’s dog was was also found in the entrance of the building.
No detail was too small for the court now tasked with determining whether the 34-year-old Greek should spend the next two decades in prison for a crime that has gripped the country.
“There is no excuse [for my actions] … what has been lost is irreplaceable. Neither Caroline nor our dog deserved it,” he told the three-member panel of presiding judges at the start of the deposition.
“There are not enough times that I can say sorry. I will tell you in detail, and sincerely, what exactly happened.”
During his testimony, Anagnostopoulos spoke of what he called his unwavering love for the student he had met on the island of Alonissos when she was 15.
Over the course of their four-year relationship, the couple had enjoyed “fairytale” times including an idyllic, spur-of-the moment wedding in Portugal “that you only see in films”.
“My absolute priority in everything was her happiness,” he said describing his joy when Caroline, who had previously suffered a miscarriage, gave birth to their daughter Lydia. “She may have been younger but she was very mature and she was maturing fast.”
The judge repeatedly interjected, cajoling the defendant – described by psychologists who had also testified in the court as “narcissistic and controlling” – for speaking of his wife in the present “when she is dead and cannot be brought back” and urging him not to “overanalyse”.
For 37 days Anagnostopoulos had tried to pin the murder on a botched break-in by ruthless foreign thieves, prompting police to speak of the pilot’s skills as a consummate actor.
On Wednesday his self-described goal was to prove that Crouch’s death had not been premeditated but was instead the result of his being in a “blurred state of mind” that should be considered a crime of passion and treated more leniently.
He had previously attempted to lay the blame on the Briton’s “dangerous outbursts” saying he had also been a victim of her physical abuse when, in heated moments, she had lunged out and “punched and kicked me”.
On the night in question, he had got especially angry, he recalled, when she refused to apologise for her part in a row and had threatened to hit their daughter – who he subsequently placed next to her dead mother’s body.
“I got on top of her [in the couple’s bed] so she couldn’t hit me so easily,” he told the Athens court, saying he believed he had been pushed to the edge by the woman he had otherwise loved.
“I told her to calm down … she was saying ‘get up, leave me, go away’ and other swear words which I’d rather not say. Then I took my pillow and I placed it over her head.”
When asked by the judge how such love could suddenly transition into such violence he responded: “I had no purpose. There was no logic in my blurred mind at that moment … and when I saw her in profile and understood she was dead from her eyes which were open and her pulse, I lost it, I began to weep and pull my hair and go back and forth across the room … from the day I lost Caroline I lost everything, I lost my life. ”
Anagnostopoulos – the son of a schoolteacher and civil engineer – stands accused of premeditated murder, the unprovoked killing of an animal and perverting the course of justice by repeatedly lying to police – charges that carry life in prison.
On Wednesday, he conceded he had hung Caroline’s seven-month-old puppy, Roxy, from the banister of the couple’s two-storey maisonette to make the crime look more credible. “It was impossible to look, I left and went into the kitchen so I couldn’t see or hear [it die].”
The defendant broke down and wept on Tuesday when excerpts of Crouch’s handwritten diary were read out to the court.
His closing words to the court were: “I hope all those who have been hurt, all those who have lost, will some day forgive me. I hope that God will forgive me. I will never forgive myself.”
Crouch had described her feelings of powerlessness in a marriage that had increasingly left her feeling trapped and suffocated. She was the 17th woman to be murdered at the hands of a partner in Greece last year.
The court will reconvene on Monday, when it is likely to issue its verdict.