SA man guilty over wife's near-death parachute fall in England

2018-05-24 17:18
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A British Army sergeant, originally from South Africa, was on Thursday found guilty of attempting to murder his wife on two occasions, by tampering with her parachute and causing a gas leak at their home.

The jury at Winchester Crown Court in southern England heard that Emile Cilliers, 38, loosened a gas valve at his home in March 2015, hoping his wife Victoria would turn on the cooker.

The couple's two young children were in the house at the time, but the attempt failed.

Less than a week later, the victim suffered severe injuries to her spine, leg and ribs after miraculously surviving a fall from 1 200m when her parachute failed.

Cilliers had taken the chute into a toilet cubicle at the airfield and sabotaged it, causing both the main and reserve chutes to fail.

"It became apparent from an early stage that the only possible cause of the failure of both the main chute and the reserve was deliberate human intervention," said prosecutor Amanda Sawetz.

"The evidence all pointed to Emile Cilliers as the man with the motive and the opportunity to commit these calculated attempts to murder his wife."

An experienced parachutist, the victim managed to slow her fall from around 100 miles-per-hour to 30 miles-per-hour, with her reserve chute partially opening shortly before impact.

A member of her parachute club in southwest England said that she had been fortunate to land in a freshly-ploughed field.

Cilliers, originally from South Africa, will be sentenced at a later date.

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