Parachute trial: Emile Cilliers ‘lust-driven pantomime villain’

Emile CilliersImage copyright PA
Image caption Emile Cilliers denies attempting to murder Victoria Cilliers on 5 April 2015

An Army sergeant accused of trying to murder his wife may be a “pantomime villain driven by lust” but he had no motive to kill, a jury has been told.

Former Army officer Victoria Cilliers suffered multiple injuries in 2015 when her parachute failed to open and she fell 4,000ft (1,200m).

Emile Cilliers is accused of tampering with the equipment to cause her death.

The court heard he was an “easy target” to the prosecution because he had been unfaithful to his wife.

In her closing statement at Winchester Crown Court, Mr Cilliers’ defence barrister Elizabeth Marsh QC told the jury that the prosecution considered Cilliers a “vile human being” and treated him with “scorn, sarcasm and theatricality”.

‘No Prince Charming’

She asked jurors to remember he was “innocent until they were sure he was guilty”.

Ms Marsh said: “Mr Cilliers is an easy target, no Prince Charming, if anything the pantomime villain, unfaithful, lying to each of the women in his life, as one assumes ‘needs must’ if you are conducting any sort of affair.”

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Emile Cilliers is being represented by defence barrister Elizabeth Marsh QC

She added that his dishonesty during his affairs had been “driven by lust” but did not mean he was lying in his account of what happened to his wife.

“Do not characterise lies to fan the flames of lust as someway a motive for a murder,” she said.

‘Penniless scoundrel’

Ms Marsh also said that the suggested motive that he expected to receive his wife’s estate if she died was “utterly rubbish”.

She explained that the couple had a pre-nuptial agreement which excluded the “financially incontinent” and “penniless scoundrel” from inheriting from his wife.

Image caption Jurors were told Victoria Cilliers’ survival was a “near miracle”

Ms Cilliers suffered multiple injuries when her hired parachute malfunctioned and the reserve failed as she plummeted 4,000ft to the ground at Netheravon Airfield, Wiltshire on 5 April 2015.

Jurors were told her survival was a “near miracle”.

The defendant denies tampering with his wife’s hire kit in a toilet cubicle at the Army Parachute Association.

The father-of-six also denies a second attempted murder charge relating to a gas leak at the family home in Amesbury, Wiltshire, and a third charge of damaging a gas valve, recklessly endangering life.

The trial continues.

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