Greek pilot accused of murdering his British wife reportedly stole story from flying instructor

Flying instructor Sotiris Papanikolas (right) said the story of his traumatic burglary was used as a cover story by his flight student, a man accused of murdering his wife  

A Greek helicopter pilot who concocted an elaborate story that his wife had been killed in a botched burglary was copying details of an actual robbery that really had taken place at his flying instructor’s home, MailOnline can reveal.

Babis Anagnostopoulos ‘stole’ the story from Sotiris Papanikolas after he was burgled in July 2018 and shared details about it with him.

The two worked together at an Athens flying company, where Mr Papanikolas was Anagnostopoulos’s helicopter supervisor and also helped to train him.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Papanikolas branded Anagnostopoulos a ‘heartless disgrace’ for using his burglary incident to cover up his crimes.

He fumed: ‘Babis is a heartless disgrace and should be ashamed of himself for stealing my story. I feel very hurt and offended by what he did because he used it to justify his crime.

‘He should be condemned for what he has done and rot in prison for life.’

He added: ‘When I heard Babis speaking about the burglary at his home, I immediately called the police because of the similarities with my story. I told them that he is using the same details as my burglary and that made me very suspicious.’

Mr Papanikolas, 74 and his wife Irene were burgled at their costal mansion in Alepochori, just outside Athens.

Babis Anagnostopoulos' flying instructor, Sotiris Papanikolas (right) is pictured. Anagnostopoulos  ‘stole’ the story of Papanikolas' horrible 2018 burglary after he confided in him during their time flying together

Babis Anagnostopoulos’ flying instructor, Sotiris Papanikolas (right) is pictured. Anagnostopoulos  ‘stole’ the story of Papanikolas’ horrible 2018 burglary after he confided in him during their time flying together

Details that he shared with police and colleagues were remarkably similar to those revealed by Anagnostopoulos when he claimed that a gang of burglars stormed his home last May, killing his wife Caroline Crouch, 19 and her pet dog Roxy.

Anagnostopoulos is currently on trial for the two killings and two counts of perverting the course of justice.

Mr Papanikolas said that as soon as he heard Anagnostopoulos’s account of the ‘burglary’ he immediately called the police to alert them of his suspicions.

He said: ‘When I heard Babis speaking about the burglary at his home, I immediately called the police because of the similarities with my story. I told them that he is using the same details as my burglary and that made me very suspicious.’

The break in at Mr Papanikolas’s home saw him being tied up and beaten while his wife was also attacked and left for dead, along with their pet dog.

Caroline Crouch (pictured) was killed in Athens. In Babis Anagnostopoulos' (right) version of events, he was tied up by the criminals, a story he allegedly stole from his instructor

Caroline Crouch (pictured) was killed in Athens. In Babis Anagnostopoulos’ (right) version of events, he was tied up by the criminals, a story he allegedly stole from his instructor

Mr Papanikolas claimed that the mask of the burglary gang leader had slipped off, exposing his face and that they spoke Albanian.

The robbers also made off with cash and jewellery after entering the property through a side window.

Anagnostopoulos provided an almost identical version of events. In addition to Caroline and Roxy being killed, he claimed that he saw the face of the leader of the burglars after his mask slipped off and that he was tied up and beaten; that cash and jewellery were stolen after thieves entered through a side window; and that the gang spoke Albanian.

Like Mr Papanikolas, he also alleged that he fainted during the attack.

A statement from Mr Papanikolas has been submitted to the court as part of the case against Anagnostopoulos.

Mr Papanikolas said: ‘I have not been following his case because I have no interest in Babis and have not seen him since his arrest. But if I am called to the court, I will tell them what happened to me and the way he used this to lie to everybody.’

After his arrest, Anagnostopoulos was asked by detectives if he knew of the burglary at Mr Papanikolas’s home but he denied all knowledge of this.

Mr Papanikolas accused Anagnostopoulos of lying, insisting that he was aware of the incident.

He added: ‘The robbery against me and my wife was brutal, and my wife was hospitalised for many days because of how badly she was beaten up. At first, we did not even know if she would survive.

‘For this reason, there was a lot of talk about it at the company where I worked. I talked about this incident with many of my colleagues and of course, had a lot of discussions with Babis about it, with whom we all had a special relationship.’

The photo shows Babis Anagnostopoulos trainer's home, where he was burgled in 2018 and his wife was left for dead. She was in hospital for nearly a month after the burglary while he was treated for serious head injuries.

The photo shows Babis Anagnostopoulos trainer’s home, where he was burgled in 2018 and his wife was left for dead. She was in hospital for nearly a month after the burglary while he was treated for serious head injuries.

Their dog (pictured) was also attacked, but he is back to full health. They thought about selling the house after the break in, but decided to stay. The perpetrators have never been caught

Their dog (pictured) was also attacked, but he is back to full health. They thought about selling the house after the break in, but decided to stay. The perpetrators have never been caught

Recalling his time as Anagnostopoulos’s helicopter trainer and supervisor, he said: ‘I liked Babis. He was a very good pilot and a shy, nice man.

‘I never thought that he would do something like this. I didn’t know his wife or his family because our relationship was a professional one.’

Mr Papanikolas’s wife Irene was in hospital for nearly a month after the burglary while he was treated for serious head injuries. The perpetrators have never been caught by police.

He said: ‘After the burglary, we thought about selling our house but have chosen to stay as we also have a place in Athens where we spend a lot of time. We have both made a good recovery, our dog is also back to full health, but the case of Babis has brought back some painful memories for us.

‘It still shocks me that he could have killed his wife and her dog in the way that he did and was so cold hearted that he used my story to maintain a lie for so long.’

On the first full day of the trial at the Mixed Jury Court in Athens, when a number of witnesses gave evidence, Anagnostopoulos told the court when the charges were put to him: ‘My love for my wife hasn’t changed from the time I met her and will never change.

Betrayed, the flight instructor said: ‘Babis is a heartless disgrace and should be ashamed of himself for stealing my story. I feel very hurt and offended by what he did because he used it to justify his crime'

Betrayed, the flight instructor said: ‘Babis is a heartless disgrace and should be ashamed of himself for stealing my story. I feel very hurt and offended by what he did because he used it to justify his crime’

‘I never had any intent to harm my wife. I loved her and will continue to do so.’

Police officer Christos Vardikos revealed during dramatic testimony how after entering the couple’s home and making his way to an upstairs bedroom, he saw Caroline lying on a bed tied up while her baby Lydia was beside her, touching her body and staring silently.

The officer told the court that Anagnostopoulos was seated in a chair beside the bed with his hands tied in front of him and duct tape over his eyes and mouth.

He added: ‘The woman also had her arms tied behind her back with a piece of clothing. I first untied her and took the baby from on top of her.

‘As soon as the defendant was untied, the first thing he did was sit on the bed, poking the woman and asked: ‘Honey, are you OK?’

‘We told him that it’s over, she is dead. We could tell she was dead because she was all white and fluids had come out from the lower part of her body. In a chair next to her, the defendant’s legs and hands were tied at the front of his body. The baby was on its knees, its arms on its mother’s body. The baby was calm and silent.’

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