AN Army sergeant accused of trying to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute was having two extramarital affairs, a court heard today.
Emile Cilliers allegedly removed vital parts from wife Victoria’s two chutes, causing her to spin out of control on a 4,000ft solo jump on Salisbury Plain.
Emile Cilliers, left, arrives for his start of his trial today at Winchester crown court
It was the second failed attempt to kill her, days after he damaged a gas valve at their home, jurors heard.
Cillers, 37, had told his Tinder lover Stefanie Goller he was going to leave Victoria for her – but was cheating on them both with his former wife Carly, it was said.
The South African-born PT instructor had also run up debts of £22,000 and hoped to cash in a £120,000 insurance payout, his trial was told.
Victoria, 40, an Army pysiotherapist and a “highly experience parachute instructor”, suffered spinal injuries and broke her leg, collarbone and ribs when both her main parachute and reserve chute failed on Easter Sunday 2015.
Accused Emile Cilliers with the alleged victim, his wife Victoria
Victoria, pictured here preparing for a previous skydive, was seriously injured when her chutes failed to open
Cillers had been having an affair with Stefanie Goller for five months before the two failed murder bids, a court heard
Prosecutor Michael Bowes QC said: “Those attending at the scene expected to find her dead.
“Although she was badly injured, almost miraculously she survived the fall.
“Those at the scene immediately realised that something was seriously wrong with her reserve parachute.
“Two vital pieces of equipment which fasten the parachute harness were missing.
“Their absence inevitably meant the reserve parachute would fail and would send her spinning to the ground.”
Victoria Cilliers, 39, suffered multiple injuries during a solo jump on Easter Sunday 2015
Emile Cilliers, pictured centre, arrives at Winchester Crown Court yesterday
An inspection found two of the four “slinks” were missing from the reserve parachute.
Cops investigated whether Cillers, who was trained to pack parachutes, had deliberately tampered with his wife’s kit, jurors heard.
They discovered her husband had taken the hired parachute to the loo with him before the jump at the Netheravon Airfield.
The QC continued: “The police investigation was widened to include the circumstances of a gas leak at Emile and Victoria Cilliers’ home a few days before.
“It was discovered that Emile Cilliers had deliberately caused a gas leak at the house just before he left the house to stay elsewhere.”
A police photo shows the gas valve that was allegedly tampered with by Emile Cillers
Cillers left his wife at home in Amesbury, Wilts, to stay at his barracks “to beat the Monday morning traffic”, the court heard.
The next morning, she smelled gas coming from a valve in the kitchen and she sent him a jokey message saying: “Are you trying to kill me?”
Mr Bowes said: “That prescient WhatsApp message turned out to be true.”
Cillers had lied to his Tinder mistress that Victoria had an affair and he might not be the father of one of their kids, the QC said.
He told Stefanie he would leave his wife for her and said in one message: “I will sacrifice and give up so much for you.”
Mr Bowes said by the time of the two alleged murder attempts, Cilliers “cared little” for his wife and treated her with “callousness and contempt”.
South African-born Emile was an instructor with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps attached to the Royal Engineers
Experienced skydiver Victoria plummeted 4,000ft when her two parachutes both failed to open
The barrister said: “The prosecution case is that he had by now decided to get rid of her permanently.
“He wanted to be with Stefanie, he wanted a new life and treated Victoria with contempt. He had no interest in spending time with her, he wanted to be out and away from her.”
Mr Bowes went on: “The prosecution case is Emile Cilliers attempted to kill her by means of a deliberate gas leak.
“Within hours of that failed attempt, he suggested that she might like to go parachuting the following weekend.
“With his absolute disinterest in her, how likely is it that he would suddenly think, after all this, I must give Victoria a treat and give her something she really wants to do like parachuting?”
Parachute equipment of the type used by Victoria Cilliers in her near-fatal fall
Two of the four slinks – vital pieces of kit connecting the chute to the harness – were missing from the reserve parachute
The chance of of a main parachute failing is one in 793 and there has never been an instance of both parachutes failing in millions of jumps each year, the court heard.
Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps based at Aldershot, Hants, denies two charges of attempted murder and one of criminal damage recklessly endangering life.
The trial continues at Winchester crown court.
Army sergeant ‘sabotaged wife’s parachutes so he could get £120,000 life insurance and be with Tinder lover’, court hears
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