British Army sergeant suspected of sabotaging spouse's parachute before solo jump

Emile Cilliers has been arrested on suspicion of trying to murder his wife Victoria.
Emile Cilliers has been arrested on suspicion of trying to murder his wife Victoria.

A British Army sergeant has been charged with trying to murder his wife after her parachute failed during a jump from 1220m.

Mother-of-two Victoria Cilliers survived only because her reserve canopy partially opened but she hit the ground at 45km/h and suffered multiple broken bones.

The 40-year-old had only given birth to her second child less than two months before the jump over Wiltshire and her South African-born husband Emile Cilliers, 36, was later arrested.

It was reported that police were alerted to the possibility her parachute could have been sabotaged before the jump on Easter Sunday last year.

Nearly 18 months after the event, Cilliers, an instructor with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, has now been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

One count accuses him of attempted murder between April 3 and April 6 last year; the other of attempted murder between March 28 and 31 last year.

He is also charged with criminal damage and recklessly endangering the lives of their two children, between March 28 and 31. The detail of the charge says that, without lawful excuse, he damaged a domestic gas fitting belonging to his wife.

Mrs Cilliers suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken leg and spinal injuries in the fall at Netheravon Airfield. She spent three weeks in hospital.

She had jumped alone from a Cessna Caravan light aircraft at 1220m but her main canopy failed to open at 900m.

Her reserve chute partially opened and she managed to slow her fall from 60km/h to around 45km/h. Police said it was miraculous she wasn't killed.

It also emerged that her survival may be due to the fact that she landed in a recently ploughed field. Mrs Cilliers and her husband, who wed in South Africa in 2011, have a daughter Lily, then three, and an infant son, Ethan, and had lived together in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Ian Harris, head of Complex Casework Unit at the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, yesterday said" "We have decided that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

Cilliers is on bail and due to appear at Salisbury Magistrates' Court in Wiltshire on October 14.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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