Parachute trial accused ‘wanted out of marriage’

A man accused of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute had told his mother he "wanted out" of his marriage, a court has heard.

Sergeant Emile Cilliers, 37, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, sent his mother the message after experiencing "difficulties" with his wife Victoria, Winchester Crown Court was told.

Mrs Cilliers, 40, suffered a fractured spine and broken ribs in a 4,000ft fall when her parachute failed on a jump at Netheravon Airfield on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, in April 2015.

The 37-year-old defendant, who denies attempted murder, told jurors how he confided in his mother while he and his wife were having problems.

Image:Victoria Cilliers survived the fall in what was described as a 'near miracle'

Elizabeth Marsh QC, defending, said: "Forgive me for paraphrasing but your mother's response was: 'Pull yourself together and get on with your marriage?"'

"Yes," Cilliers said.

Asked about an affair he had with Stephanie Goller, a woman he met on dating app Tinder, Cilliers said it happened at a time when he was "far away from home" and felt he needed "female company".

He told jurors his wife would get "very easily upset" and had told him she "wanted life to be over".

Cilliers said he did not tell his wife about the affair and did not know how it would "play out".

He added that he lied to Ms Goller when his wife was expecting their child, telling her that the baby was not his.

The parachute failed to open properly
Image:Mrs Cilliers' parachute failed to open properly

Ms Marsh asked: "If you had a future with Stephanie how were you going to resolve that particular issue?"

Cillers responded: "There was no way of doing it. Nonetheless I kept on lying about it."

He later said: "The lie was cowardly and a big mistake."

Winchester Crown Court previously heard it was a "near miracle" Mrs Cilliers survived her fall.

The defendant denies attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her hire kit in a toilet cubicle.

Cilliers also denies a second attempted murder charge relating to a gas leak at their family home a few days earlier, as well as a third charge of recklessly endangering life by damaging a gas valve.

The trial continues.

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