A UK man has been found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute and sabotaging a gas valve in their home.
Emile Cilliers, 38, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, faced two charges of attempted murder and a third count of damaging a gas fitting recklessly endangering life at Winchester Crown Court.
Victoria Cilliers suffered near-fatal injuries when her main and reserve parachutes failed during a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, 2015.
Cilliers had been £22,000 (A$38,000) in debt when his wife Victoria’s main and reserve parachutes failed during a 1,200-metre jump.
In November 2013, Mrs Cilliers wrote to her husband saying that his failure to sort out his finances was putting “immense strain on our relationship”.
The prosecution claimed during the trial that Cilliers was deeply in debt and the motive for his actions was that he needed his wife’s life insurance money to pay off his bills and start a new life with his lover, Stefanie Goller.
The extent of his money problems was also revealed in messages sent between the married couple in December 2014, as their relationship began to break down.
“I just checked my bank and no money from you,” Mrs Cilliers wrote to him.
“Please look into this. I can’t keep financing everything with no input from you.”
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Mrs Cilliers also changed her will the same month to stop her husband from being her beneficiary – a fact he only learned when police began their investigation.
The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, thanked the jury of nine men and three women for carrying out their duty with “distinction”.
He said he would be seeking a report from the probation service to establish the “dangerousness” of the defendant and to seek a statement from Mrs Cilliers on the impact the offences had upon her before sentencing Cilliers on a date to be set.