Belfast Telegraph

Soldier in dock over parachute kill bid contacted prostitute, retrial told

By Ben Mitchell

The retrial of an Army sergeant accused of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute has heard he arranged to have sex with a prostitute in the weeks before the incident.

Emile Cilliers (38), of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, faces two charges of attempted murder and a third count of damaging a gas fitting, recklessly endangering life.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the jury at Winchester Crown Court a previous trial had ended with a jury unable to reach verdicts.

The serving soldier is accused of sabotaging his wife's main and reserve parachute, and of tampering with a gas valve at their family home Amesbury, Wiltshire, a number of days before the near-fatal incident.

Victoria Cilliers suffered near-fatal injuries when her main and reserve parachutes failed during a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, April 5 2015.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, said Cilliers wanted to get rid of her "permanently", adding: "This is a man who cared absolutely nothing for her and treated her with absolute contempt."

He explained that at the time Cilliers was conducting an affair with a woman called Stefanie Goller, as well as having a "sexual relationship" with ex-wife Carly Cilliers and "contact with a number of prostitutes".

Mr Bowes said that on March 13, 2015, Cilliers arranged to meet Carly Cilliers for sex before arranging to have unprotected sex with a prostitute for £100 and asking her if he could film their tryst.

Cilliers was also £22,000 in debt and believed he was set to receive a £120,000 insurance payout in the event of his wife's accidental death, the lawyer told the court.

He explained that Victoria Cilliers survived the fall despite both her parachutes failing, adding that allegations of sabotage arose after vital components were discovered to be missing.

Mr Bowes said: "When she jumped out of the plane at 4,000ft, her main parachute and her reserve parachute failed, causing her to spiral to the ground. Those attending the scene expected to find her dead.

"Although badly injured, almost miraculously, she survived that fall.

"Those at the scene immediately realised something was wrong with her reserve parachute. Two vital pieces of equipment which fix the parachute to the parachutist's harness were missing. Their absence meant her reserve parachute would inevitably fail and the parachutist would just spin to the ground."

Mr Bowes said that a week previously Cilliers had "deliberately caused a gas leak" at his family home while he was staying elsewhere in a failed bid to murder his wife.

He added: "He wanted to be rid of her and wanted to live his life on his own terms. He cared nothing for her and in truth cared only for himself. He decided to get rid of her permanently."

Cilliers denies the charges. The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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