Wiltshire

Parachute trial: Emile Cilliers 'better off with wife alive'

Victoria Cilliers and Sgt Emile Cilliers
Image caption Victoria Cilliers almost died in the 2015 parachute jump

An Army sergeant accused of trying to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute "was better off with her alive", a court has heard.

Emile Cilliers, 38, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, denies sabotaging Victoria Cilliers' parachute in 2015 in an attempt to kill her.

The prosecution alleges he wanted her dead because he thought he would get money from her life insurance.

Mr Cilliers denies two counts of attempted murder.

Prosecutors allege the defendant was £22,000 in debt and believed he was set to get a £120,000 insurance payout in the event of his wife's accidental death.

Mr Cilliers was also having relationships with a number of other women.

However, Elizabeth Marsh QC told a jury at Winchester Crown Court that Mr Cilliers was "financially better off with Mrs Cilliers alive" as he had not been included in her will.

Mrs Cilliers was owed £19,000 by her husband but still had £30,000 in her savings account, which Ms Marsh claimed her client could have continued to plunder.

'No Prince Charming'

Ms Marsh admitted her client was "no Prince Charming", but added: "Killing Victoria would be the equivalent of killing the goose that lays the golden egg".

The court heard how Mr Cilliers spent thousands of pounds he did not have on items for himself, including a television for £3,500, skiing equipment and electronic gadgets.

Ms Marsh said he "lied to fuel his lust and to cover his erratic financial tracks" but his lies were "mainly flights of fancy".

"You might be surprised Mr Cilliers is not more of a fan of skydiving, since his head is so often in the clouds," she said.

Mrs Cilliers, an experienced skydiver, survived the 4,000ft (1,220m) fall at Netheravon airfield in Wiltshire in April 2015.

The trial continues.

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