A Greek pilot accused of murdering his British wife, Caroline Crouch, as she slept in their Athens home, exerted “extreme control” over her, a court has heard.
On day three of a murder trial that has gripped the nation, Eleni Mylonopoulou, a counselor who had seen the couple over several months for couples counseling, testified that the young Briton had fallen victim to an “extremely manipulative” man.
Babis Anagnostopoulos, 34, who has admitted strangling Crouch, 20, in the presence of their baby daughter on 11 May last year, was very aware of his actions, she told judges and jurors in court.
“The behavior of the accused towards Caroline was extremely manipulative, extremely controlling,” said the counselor, describing a marriage that had become increasingly abusive. “Very often Caroline did not understand herself… she would be closed in the house for days alone.”
Mylonopoulou, whose prolonged testimony dominated a dramatic day of proceedings, told the court it was clear to her that Crouch had been desperate to leave Anagnostopoulos, whom she had met as a teenager on Alonissos, the island where she was raised.
“From the very first session, the 20-year-old had confided that she wanted to take the child and leave,” she said, explaining that Crouch had complained of often being left without any means to even shop.
“Her mother would send her money and he would take it… she did not even have five euros on her. She wanted to go to a pastry school but she did not have the money to attend. She could not move about. Everything had to happen with a taxi driver friend of the accused… when a person is manipulative like the accused he wants at any moment to know where the other is. ”.
The counselor said she had seen the couple a dozen times before receiving written notice from Anagnostopoulos, abruptly ending the sessions.
For nearly six weeks, the helicopter pilot attempted to blame the murder on a botched burglary by “foreign” thieves. In a rare move, Greek authorities announced a € 300,000 reward for information that might lead to the assailants. When it did eventually come, his confession convulsed the nation. Crouch was among 17 women in Greece last year to be killed by their partners.
The defendant, who also admitted killing Caroline’s seven-month-old puppy in an attempt to make his claim of a violent burglary appear more realistic, stands accused of pre-meditated murder, animal abuse and lying to police – charges that could mean life in prison.
Fourteen prosecution witnesses are expected to take the stand.
Since the trial’s opening, Anagnostopoulos, who claims he committed the crime in “a blurred state of mind”, has personally questioned several of the witnesses as part of a strategy aimed at proving the murder had not been planned. If he is able to convince the court, his sentence could be reduced.
Cross-examining the counselor – as allowed under Greek law – he attempted on Thursday to quash the claim he had been manipulative and controlling.
Mylonopoulou, who was forced to verbally spar with the man she once counseled, told the court she was so convinced that Anagnostopoulos had committed the crime when news of the murder broke that she had called her lawyer to say as much.
The giveaway, she said, was the death of Caroline’s dog, Roxy. “Caroline adored that dog. To kill it first was symbolic. And Caroline was asleep. He killed her in her sleep. He had her in his hands. The life was drained from her in his hands, ”she said, describing the manner of the Briton’s death as controlling in itself.
“He could feel [her dying] and he murdered her. He also exhibited abusive behavior towards the child, which he placed next to her mother’s dead body… a baby has a special relationship with her mother, which he abused, putting her next to the lifeless body of her mother. ”