Man accused of tampering with wife’s parachute faces retrial

Emile Cilliers denies attempting to murder his wife, whose parachute failed to open during a jump. © PA Emile Cilliers denies attempting to murder his wife, whose parachute failed to open during a jump.

The jury in the trial of an army sergeant accused of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute has been discharged after failing to reach verdicts.

Emile Cilliers will face a retrial after the jury was dismissed on Thursday, a day after the judge warned its members against bullying between them.

Nine men and three women began deliberating the charges on Tuesday last week.

But, on Wednesday this week, after discharging two female jurors on the grounds of stress-related illnesses, Mr Justice Sweeney told the remaining members: “Discussions by their nature will be exhausting.

However, and obviously, all must remain within the proper bounds of discussion, and not amount to improper pressure or bullying.”

In a further extraordinary turn of events at the start of proceedings on Thursday morning, before they were discharged, the jury publicly defended itself.

The remaining seven women and three men produced a note saying: “Collectively we feel we have had no opportunity to defend ourselves and our integrity which has further implications on us personally and professionally.”

Sweeney responded by saying his comments had not “suggested any bullying had been going on” but had been intended “to flush it out if it had”.

Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, was accused of two counts of attempting to murder Victoria Cilliers.

He was also accused of one count of criminal damage to a gas valve, recklessly endangering life.

His wife, an experienced parachute instructor, sustained near-fatal injuries when she took part in a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday in 2015.


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