UK man sabotaged skydiver wife's parachute - prosecution

Both Victoria Cilliers' parachutes failed, but she miraculously survived the fall.
Both Victoria Cilliers' parachutes failed, but she miraculously survived the fall. Photo credit: Facebook

A British Army sergeant tampered with his wife's two parachutes prior to a skydive in an effort to kill her, the prosecution in an attempted murder trial says.

The court heard Emile Cilliers, 37, allegedly sabotaged his wife Victoria's main and reserve parachutes by removing some of their components on April 5, 2015.

She undertook the jump, but soon discovered both parachutes were faulty and was sent plummeting to the ground below. She landed on freshly plowed soil and miraculously survived the fall, but was left with a broken pelvis, ribs and vertebrae.

Sgt Cilliers has denied attempting to murder her - but the prosecution has been providing evidence of his motives during a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

They argue Sgt Cilliers was keen to start a life with a woman he had met on Tinder, and had also rekindled a relationship with his former wife. The prosecution says he also had $50,000 in debts, which would have been more than paid off thanks to a $220,000 life insurance payout, had she died.

The court was also told that Sgt Cilliers, a sergeant in the British Royal Army Physical Training Corps, had attempted to take his wife's life just a week earlier.

The jury heard that he'd loosened a gas pipe in the hopes she would light the stove and be blown up. However, Ms Cilliers smelt the gas and texted him an ominous question: "Are you trying to kill me?"

He responded asking what she meant, but her reply implied the original text was just a joke. A short time later he responded again, asking whether she wanted to go skydiving as "a treat".

The trial resumes again on Friday (local time).