Soldier 'tampered with wife's parachute in bid to kill her'

Image caption,
Sgt Emilie Cilliers was having two affairs and also using prostitutes, the court heard

An Army sergeant who was having two affairs tampered with his wife's parachute to try and kill her, a court has heard.

Emile Cilliers, 38, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, faces two charges of attempted murder.

A retrial at Winchester Crown Court heard Mr Cilliers held his wife Victoria "in contempt" and "wanted to get rid of her permanently".

Mr Cilliers denies all the charges against him.

Victoria Cilliers was seriously injured when her main and reserve parachutes failed during a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, 5 April 2015.

The court heard the victim was a "highly experienced parachutist and parachute instructor".

Image caption,
Victoria Cilliers almost died in the 2015 parachute jump

Prosecutor, Michael Bowes QC, said: "When she jumped out of the plane at 4,000ft, both 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 she was badly injured, almost miraculously she survived that fall."

He said that soon after she landed on the ground, people at the scene realised vital pieces of kit were missing.

'Parallel lives'

The prosecution told jurors the defendant was having an affair with a woman called Stefanie Goller.

Mr Bowes told the court Mr Cilliers was also having a "sexual relationship" with his ex-wife Carly Cilliers and had "contact with a number of prostitutes".

The court heard he lived "parallel lives" with his wife, ex-wife and mistress.

In a series of WhatsApp messages between him and Ms Goller read to the court, the accused expressed his love for her.

He also sent messages to Ms Goller while his pregnant wife was going into labour.

Mr Cilliers lied that he was not the baby's father and his wife had an affair, the jury heard. He also claimed he had already left his wife.

Mr Bowes said: "It shows the depth he will sink and manipulate when it suits him."

Insurance payout

The 38-year-old Army sergeant was £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, Mr Bowes said.

Mr Cilliers also denies a charge of damaging a gas fitting recklessly endangering life.

This allegation refers to a gas valve being damaged at the couple's family home in Amesbury, Wiltshire, a few days prior to the near-fatal parachute jump.

The trial continues.

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