Fears Albanian gang tortured Brit mum to death with baby at side in Greece after 3 violent burglaries in neighbourhood

AN Albanian gang could have tortured a British mum to death with her baby at her side in Greece, it is feared.

There have been at least three other violent burglaries in the upmarket Athens neighbourhood where Caroline Crouch, 20, and her 32-year-old husband Charalambos Anagnostopoulos were tied up by raiders and forced to reveal where their money and jewellery was kept.

Extreme violence, or the threat of such, was used in each of the break-ins, which took place in Glyka Nera the last six months, the Daily Mail reports.

They showed stark similarities to the horror at Caroline's home where she was strangled and had a gun pointed at the head of her 11-month-old baby Lydia.

One, in December, saw four men break into a house in nearby Chalandri and drag a woman by her hair and threaten to slit her throat.

The gang made off with jewellery and £8,000 in cash – much like the robbery at Caroline's home which saw £20,000 worth of jewellery and £10,000 in banknotes stolen.

Four men were involved in both incidents, and they entered the properties through back windows.

The authorities believe the suspects could be Albanian, a police source said.

Greece shares a border with Albania and there are reportedly more than 200 outstanding arrest warrants for people from the country.

Detectives have now drawn up a so-called ‘red list’ of violent criminals who are being investigated for links to the robbery.

It follows a violent break-in to an apartment in the Athens suburb of Peristeri where a woman lived with her 12-year-old daughter in the summer of 2019.

The mother was beaten unconscious and the three men, from Albania, stole whatever they could find.

Later that year an elderly couple were targeted in Ioannina – the closest Greek city to Albania.

Cash and jewellery were stolen after a gang tied up and attacked the husband, who died in hospital from head injuries.

It is possible it was the same gang involved in Caroline's killing.

Officers described seeing Caroline's body tied to a pole where the intruders had tortured her in the family's attic bedroom, reports Pro Thema.

Baby Lydia was "half on her, screaming and hitting her mother with her hands to wake her up".

Charalambos was tied up with rope "like a sausage" and also handcuffed, with insulating tape over his eyes and mouth, reports said.

He is believed to have suffered hypoxia – a potentially fatal lack of oxygen – before wriggling free and calling police using his nose in the early hours of Sunday.

Charalambos told investigators he begged for their lives as the brutal thieves held a gun to the baby's head and demanded to know where they kept their cash and jewels.

Officers suspect the gang may have been tipped off that the couple had significant amounts of cash stashed in the house, hidden in a Monopoly box, to pay builders after they bought a plot of land.

The three robbers forced their way into the family's two-storey house at 4.30am after breaking a CCTV camera and hanging the family's dog by its own lead.

A fourth criminal kept watch outside the home as the other three found the couple sleeping with their child in an attic bedroom.

A police spokesperson told the local news outlet The Dawn that cops believe the suspects, masked and armed with pistols, broke into the house through a window in the basement after spending several hours observing the family.

DNA samples are being collected from the couple's clothes and Caroline's fingernails, which could lead them to the gang after preliminary analysis showed evidence of her frantic struggle as she fought back against her torturers.

One police officer quoted in Greek media claimed the gang had been identified and were well known.

“The three robbers are professionals. They have what we call a criminal past,” the cop said.

“That is, they are marked, they have gone through prisons and as it turned out, they are people with a strong anti-social element and a complete lack of emotions.”

He said the sadistic gang “used their hands” to kill the young mum, despite having weapons, in what was “prolonged physical contact” with their victim.

The officer said the killers had the opportunity to walk away but didn’t.

"This clearly shows their intention to kill. In a robbery, the question is money. It was not necessary to kill to achieve the goal," he said.

"They took the money, but they will be charged with murder. A crime that will send them behind bars for many years."

Helicopter pilot Charalambos paid tribute to his "wonderful" wife in an emotional eulogy at Caroline's funeral yesterday

He told mourners he is heartbroken that their daughter now faces the agony of growing up not remembering her mother.

He was pictured clutching little Lydia in his arm's as he walked from an aircraft to a car waiting to take him to the service.

Paying tribute to Caroline, he said: "I was lucky that I met you, very lucky that you loved me and even more lucky that you are the mother of my child.

"Lydia will grow up not remembering her wonderful mother, but Caroline, who was the joy of life, will always be near me, through Lydia."

Local mayor Petros Vafinis told The Sun Online: "Caroline was much loved and we are as shocked here as everyone in Greece by this horrible crime."

Caroline was raised on Alonissos where her British dad, David, had built a dream villa after falling in love with the island.

The former gas and oil executive had previously lived in Athens where he met Susan, a teacher.

Caroline moved to the island when she was a little girl, attending the local Greek school and joining the girl scouts.  

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