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Former military man guilty of trying to kill wife with parachute plunge

Emile Cilliers, 38, was convicted by a jury at Winchester Crown Court.

An Army sergeant has been found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute and sabotaging a gas valve at their home.

A jury of nine men and three women convicted 38-year-old Emile Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, of two attempted murder charges and a third count of damaging the gas fitting recklessly endangering life following a retrial at Winchester Crown Court.

The defendant showed no emotion as he was convicted unanimously on the two counts of attempted murder and by a majority of 10 to two on the criminal damage charge.

Emile Cilliers court case

Victoria Cilliers, a highly-experienced parachuting instructor, suffered near-fatal injuries when both her main and reserve ‘chutes failed when she took part in a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

Mr Justice Sweeney thanked the jurors for fulfilling their duty “with distinction” and told them: “The burden now falls on me on what to do as far as this defendant is concerned; that too is a heavy burden.”

He continued: “It’s an important part of any sentencing exercise where there is a victim or intended victim, as there plainly is in this case, that the court gives the victim an opportunity to make a statement and despite all the ups and downs that is what I am going to afford Mrs Cilliers the opportunity if she wishes to take it.”

The judge added that he would have to consider the “dangerousness” of the defendant and said: “It may well be that I may need a report from an expert probation officer on this but, as the judge who has presided over this case twice, you may imagine I have my own views.”

The judge is to hear submissions on Thursday afternoon ahead of the sentencing on a date to be set.

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