From the BBC:
A soldier has been found guilty of trying to murder his wife by sabotaging her parachute. This is the story of how Emile Cilliers’ lifetime of deceit ultimately led to his unveiling as a would-be killer.
As Sgt Emile Cilliers drove home on the afternoon of 30 March 2015, he knew his plan to kill his wife Victoria by causing a gas leak had not worked. So he pulled out his new iPhone – bought with his wife’s money – and sent her a text. The wheels were once again set in motion. Surely nobody could survive what he’d planned for his wife next?
He wasn’t to know that as Victoria Cilliers plummeted to earth after a catastrophic parachute failure, his own life would steadily unravel.
Cilliers had hoped to kill his wife in their own home. He’d done all the preparation: opening the gas valve in the kitchen before heading off to his ex-wife and current lover Carly’s house, safe in the knowledge his toddler, newborn baby and exhausted wife were tucked up in bed.
Once his tryst with Carly was over, he sent a saucy text or two to his girlfriend Stefanie, checked an adult website “for thrills” and drove the 45 minutes to his barracks in Aldershot.
The following morning, Victoria Cilliers woke and went to the kitchen to fetch some milk for one of her children.
She smelled gas.
She texted her husband, asking if he’d altered the valve in the kitchen as there was blood around it.
“Are you trying to bump me off?” she joked.
And of course he was.
Things weren’t rosy in the Cilliers marriage, but Victoria was unaware of most of what was going on behind her back.
She was a woman in love. But although Victoria was suspicious of Emile’s fidelity, she would never have suspected he’d attempt to take her life not once, but twice.
But Emile Cilliers was a man used to getting his own way.
When he wanted money, he borrowed large sums from his wife, colleagues and payday loan companies.
When he wanted sex, he used prostitutes, had casual flings, and had affairs with his ex-wife and a girlfriend who lived abroad.
When he wanted to go on holiday with that girlfriend, he told his wife it was a work trip.
And when he wanted Victoria out of his life, he tried to kill her.
He suggested they jump together over the Easter weekend.
They went to Netheravon airfield on the Saturday, but bad weather prevented them from jumping. Cilliers had collected a parachute rig from the kit store for Victoria.
Before heading home, rather than return Victoria’s rig to the store, Cilliers put it in their locker. He said it was so Victoria could save time the following morning.
She felt uneasy. She would not ordinarily put kit that did not belong to her in their locker, but she acquiesced. It was preferable to squabbling over something minor, especially when they’d been getting on so well.
In reality, her husband had taken the equipment into the toilet and sabotaged both chutes. He twisted the lines on the main one and then removed parts of the reserve. He had to keep her kit separate or someone else would be his victim.
Victoria returned to the airfield on Easter Sunday. She texted her husband to say she was tempted to go home and “eat her choc egg” as the weather was poor again, but he encouraged her to stay until jumping conditions improved.
All of a sudden he was putting her first. He was looking after their children while she enjoyed a hobby she said was “her life” before she married and had children.
So she put on the parachute rig and went up in the plane to the cloud layer – about 4,000ft (1,200m).
Witnesses told the court she was happy and excited to be jumping again. She fist-bumped other skydivers in the aircraft with her.
She was the last to jump.
She stepped out of the aircraft, free fell for about three seconds and then pulled the cord.
Immediately, she knew there was something wrong.
“It just didn’t feel right. The lines were twisted. I was spinning.”
Victoria had completed more than 2,500 jumps. She knew what to do, so cut away the main chute and deployed the reserve. It did not work.
That was the last thing she remembered.
Airfield ground staff watched in horror as she spiralled to the ground. She looked “like a rag doll”, being flung about underneath a malformed canopy.
They were so certain she had died they took a body bag to collect her.
Her survival was described by experts as “a miracle” and was put down to her small size and the fact she landed on a soft, recently-ploughed field.
She suffered a broken spine, a smashed pelvis, fractured ribs and internal injuries.
It is unusual for a main parachute to fail, and almost unheard of for the reserve to do so as well. In fact, no equipment anywhere in the world had ever failed in this particular way, experts told the trial.
The British Parachute Association inspected the chutes and concluded they had been deliberately sabotaged.
Apparently, someone wanted Victoria dead.
The investigation was passed to the police.