Army sergeant 'removed parachute parts in bid to kill wife'
An Army sergeant tried to kill his wife by removing parts of her parachute, causing her to spin thousands of feet to the ground, a court has heard.
Emile Cilliers, 37, is accused of two counts of attempted murder of his former wife Victoria Cilliers who survived the jump on 5 April 2015.
Winchester Crown Court heard Ms Cilliers suffered multiple injuries.
Mr Cilliers, who denies all charges, wanted to leave his wife for a lover he had met on Tinder, prosecutors said.
It is also claimed that just days before the jump, on 29 March 2015, the defendant tried to kill Ms Cilliers, 40, by deliberately causing a gas leak in the family home while he stayed away.
Prosecutor Michael Bowes QC said that on the night of the gas leak Mr Cilliers had left his wife at their home in Amesbury, Wiltshire, to stay at his Army barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire.
He said the following morning Ms Cilliers contacted her husband complaining of a gas smell coming from a kitchen cupboard next to the oven.
She noticed dried blood on the fitting which was later found to be a full DNA match to her husband, the court was told.
The jury was told the Royal Army Physical Training Corps sergeant lied to his lover, Stefanie Glover, that he was leaving his wife because she was having an affair and he was not the father of one of their children.
Mr Bowes QC said Mr Cilliers was also having an affair with his ex-wife Carly Cilliers.
He told the court the defendant had debts of £22,000 and believed he would receive a £120,000 life insurance payout on his wife's death.
Mr Bowes QC said Ms Cilliers was a highly experienced parachutist and instructor but when she jumped out of the plane 4,000ft (1,200m) above Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire "both her main parachute and her reserve parachute failed".
"Those attending at the scene expected to find her dead, although she was badly injured, almost miraculously she survived the fall.
"Those at the scene immediately realised that something was seriously wrong with her reserve parachute, two vital pieces of equipment which fasten the parachute harness were missing," he said.
The day before the failed jump the couple had visited Netheravon together, the court heard.
While there Mr Cilliers collected a hire parachute for his wife and took it into the men's toilets at the base, where he is alleged to have tampered with it.
Mr Bowes QC said: "It's heavy, it's bulky, there is absolutely no reason to take it in there at all.
"The weather was so poor that afternoon that Victoria couldn't jump, the cloud base was too low."
The court heard that Mr Cilliers then arranged to keep the equipment overnight in his wife's locker, a move that was against normal procedure.
He added that at the time of the murder attempts, Mr Cilliers was leaving his wife and treated her with "callousness and contempt".
The third allegation, which Mr Cilliers also denies, is damaging a gas fitting, reckless to endangerment of life.
The trial continues.