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Parachute trial: Cilliers 'guilty' of attempting to kill wife

Emile Cilliers has been found guilty of attempted murder Photo: Ben Birchall/PA WIRES

The 38-year-old army sergeant Emile Cilliers from Aldershot has been found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute and by sabotaging a gas valve at their home.

The verdicts came on the second day of deliberations by a jury during a retrial of the case at Winchester Crown Court. Emile Cilliers, of the Royal Army Training Corps, faced two charges of attempted murder and a third charge of damaging a gas fitting recklessly endangering life. He was found guilty of all three counts.

Cillier's wife Victoria, a highly-experienced parachuting instructor, suffered near-fatal injuries when her main and reserve parachutes failed during a jump in Wiltshire. The incident happened at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire on Easter Sunday, 5th April 2015.

The parachutes failed during a jump over Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire

After the verdict the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, thanked the nine men and three women on the jury for carrying out their duty with "distinction". He also told them that he would now consider how to sentence Cilliers.

He said he would be seeking a report from the probation service to establish the "dangerousness" of the defendant. The judge will also seek a statement from Mrs Victoria Cilliers on the impact that the offences had had upon her, before sentencing her husband at a future date.

Victoria and Emile Cilliers in earlier times

"The burden now falls on me on what to do as far as this defendant is concerned, that too is a heavy burden."

"It's an important part of any sentencing exercise where there is a victim or intended victim as there plainly is in this case, that the court gives the victim an opportunity to make a statement and despite all the ups and downs that is what I am going to afford Mrs Cilliers if she wishes to take it."

– Mr Justice Sweeney speaking to the jury after the verdict

Mr Justice Sweeney also said that he would have to consider the "dangerousness" of the defendant and said: "It may well be that I may need a report from an expert probation officer on this but as the judge who has presided over this case twice, you may imagine I have my own views."

Speaking outside Winchester Crown Court, Detective Inspector Paul Franklin from Wiltshire Police said that by endangering their lives Emile Cilliers had shown 'nothing but contempt for his wife and children'.

The detective added that Cilliers had failed to accept any responsibility for his actions, showing that he was a 'cold, calculating and callous man'.

Hannah Squire, the Crown Advocate from the CPS who prosecuted the case, said the evidence had shown the jury details of Emile Cilliers' 'continued manipulation of all the women in his life to satisfy his own desires', whether that was to start a new life or otherwise.

Watch our full report including the background to the case by clicking on the video below.