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Army sergeant charged with attempted murder after wife’s parachute failed to open

The Independent logo The Independent 18/09/2016 Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
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A sergeant has been charged with attempted murder after his wife's parachute failed to open during a 4,000ft jump.

Emile Cilliers, 36, is accused of two counts of attempted murder and one charge of criminal damage reckless to the endangerment of life.

One count of attempted murder relates to the jump on Easter Sunday last year, when Mr Cilliers’ wife Victoria, 40, suffered “multiple serious injuries” during a jump at Netheravon Airfield on Salisbury Plain.

In addition to Mrs Cillier's main parachute failing to open, her reserve parachute also failed and only opened partially, Wiltshire Police said at the time.

After her main parachute failed at around 3,000 feet, Mrs Cilliers was able to slow her decent to around 30mph when her reserve parachute opened partially, but she suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken leg and spinal injuries, the Telegraph reported at the time. Police said she "miraculously" survived the incident and had nearly lost her life. 

She was taken to Southampton Hospital and was discharged after three weeks. She had given birth just five weeks before the incident, the Guardian reports.

The second count of attempted murder relates to an incident that took place between 28 and 31 March last year in Wiltshire, with the third allegation of criminal damage reckless to the endangerment relating to when Mr Cilliers allegedly damaged a domestic gas fitting in belonging to his wife, which put the couple's children's lives in danger.

Ian Harris, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wessex, said: “The CPS has today authorised the police to charge Emile Cilliers with two charges of attempting to murder his wife, Victoria Cilliers, and with a further charge of criminal damage reckless to the endangerment of the lives of their two children.”

Mr Cilliers has been released on bail and is due to appear at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court on 14 October.

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