June 15, 2018 / 12:23 PM / 5 months ago

UK soldier who sabotaged wife's parachute is jailed for life

LONDON (Reuters) - A British army sergeant who sabotaged his wife’s parachute, causing her to plunge 4,000 feet to the ground after jumping from a plane, was jailed for life on Friday for trying to murder her.

Victoria Cilliers, 41, suffered severe injuries to her spine, broke her leg, collarbone and ribs and only survived because she landed in a newly ploughed field, a court heard.

Her husband Emile Cilliers, 38, who had denied attempted murder, will have to serve at least 18 years in jail.

Winchester Crown Court heard that, knowing his wife was planning a skydive, Cilliers had sabotaged her parachute in an airfield toilet cubicle in Netheravon, southwest England.

Lines to the main canopy were twisted and parts were missing from the reserve, stopping the chute from opening when she jumped from the plane in April 2015.

The court also heard Cilliers had tampered with a gas cooker at the family home hoping that when his wife turned it on, it would explode.

Police said that Cilliers’ motive had been to obtain an insurance payout on his wife’s death, which would have allowed him to start a new life with his lover.

“Emile lied, he squirmed, he turned, he never took any responsibility for any of his actions and just presented a front of a cold, callous man who as we found out did everything for himself...,” Detective Inspector Paul Franklin of Wiltshire Police told the BBC.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Costas Pitas

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