A sergeant in the British army is denying charges that he orchestrated elaborate — but ultimately unsuccessful — attempts to kill his wife and pursue a relationship with a woman he met via a dating app.
Emile Cilliers was arrested after his wife, Victoria, was severely injured in a 2015 parachute jump in which the main and reserve parachutes failed to deploy.
While his wife recovered from numerous broken bones and other injuries, the 37-year-old Royal Army Physical Training Corps sergeant faced charges that the near-fatal incident was at least his second plot to kill her.
Prosecutors making the case against Cilliers, who was charged with attempted murder, say he created a potentially fatal gas leak in the couple’s home a few days prior to the parachute crash. He allegedly tampered with a gas valve prior to leaving the home to stay somewhere else overnight.
The next weekend, he reportedly invited his wife to the ill-fated parachuting expedition.
A text message presented at trial indicated the gas leak was enough to make the victim suspicious.
“Are you trying to kill me?” she reportedly asked Cillier after discovering the hazard.
“Seriously,” he texted in reply, “why are you saying that?”
Michael Bowes, a prosecutor in the trial, said there was a financial motive for Cilliers, who was about $30,000 in debt and stood to receive roughly $160,000 in life insurance benefits upon his wife’s death. Bowes also argued the defendant wanted his wife out of the way so he could be with Stefanie Goller, a woman he met on Tinder and had been dating.
In describing the victim’s experience, Bowes explained she fell to the ground from a height of about 4,000 feet.
“Those attending at the scene expected to find her dead,” he said. “Although she was badly injured, almost miraculously she survived the fall.”
Metro published a short video of Victoria Cilliers in the plane prior to the jump that almost killed her.
An investigation soon revealed the 40-year-old’s parachute was missing multiple vital fasteners.
“Their absence inevitably meant the reserve parachute would fail and would send her spinning to the ground,” Bowes said.
He said it was obvious that Cillier “wanted a new life and treated Victoria with contempt,” arguing the defendant “had no interest in spending time with her, he wanted to be out and away from her.”
[Featured image: Facebook/Emile Cillier]