Emile Cilliers trial: Wife ‘blacked out’ as parachute failed

Victoria CilliersImage copyright Andrew Matthews
Image caption Victoria Cilliers arrived at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday morning

The wife of an Army sergeant accused of trying to kill her told a court “everything went black” as she struggled with her failing parachute.

Victoria Cilliers, 40, suffered multiple injuries in a 4,000ft near-fatal fall at Netheravon Airfield, Wiltshire, in April 2015.

Emile Cilliers, 37, denies two counts of attempted murder.

His former Army officer wife told Winchester Crown Court she was forced to cut away the main parachute.

“Straight away I knew something was not quite right, it had a lot of twists and the canopy wasn’t floating,” she said.

“I can’t remember if I pulled the reserve or it deployed automatically…. it was very twisted.”

Image caption Emile Cilliers denies attempting to murder his wife in April 2015

Prosecutors allege Mr Cilliers, a sergeant with the Aldershot-based Royal Army Physical Training Corps, twisted the lines of his wife’s main parachute and sabotaged a reserve chute the day before her jump.

In her second day of giving evidence, Mrs Cilliers told the jury how she tried to untangle the reserve parachute.

“I’m trying to fly something that is spinning quite fast, it’s like a centrifuge, you end up facing the ground spinning quite rapidly.

“I had to use quite a lot of force using the whole body to untangle the twists which I managed.

“Then I couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get control, it was getting worse.”

‘One in a million’

Physiotherapist Mrs Cilliers said the chances of a main parachute failing was one in 750 jumps but for the reserve to fail as well was “one-in-a-million”.

She suffered broken vertebrae, ribs and pelvis in the fall.

“The last thing I remember is trying to get some kind of control over it, trying to open as many cells as I could then everything went black,” she said.

“I do not know if it was the G force or the impact but everything cut out.”

Mr Cilliers denies two counts of attempted murder and one of criminal damage recklessly endangering life.

The case continues.

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