Parachute trial: Cilliers' wife says she 'wasn't suicidal'

Victoria Cilliers pictured arriving at Winchester Crown Court last month

Victoria Cilliers pictured arriving at Winchester Crown Court last month

An Army sergeant accused of trying to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute told a court today she had previously tried to commit suicide.

Army Sergeant Emile Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, is accused of tampering with his wife Victoria's hire kit, allegedly twisting the lines of the main parachute and removing some slinks from the reserve. 

The 42-year-old survived spiralling to earth at high speed after she cut away her main parachute and her reserve chute failed during the jump at the Army Parachute Association in Wiltshire.

But her husband told Winchester Crown Court today his wife told him she made an unsuccessful attempt on her own life when they were not together.

Yesterday Victoria Cilliers said she was 'very emotional' when she carried out the test jump, to see if she would return to skydiving regularly after becoming a mother.

But she told the jury trying her husband that, although she had made comments 'threatening suicide' in the past, she was not attempting to take her own life when she jumped out of the plane on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. 

Victoria Cilliers pictured in a court sketch giving evidence during the murder trial of her husband Army sergeant Emile Cilliers at Winchester Crown Court

Victoria Cilliers pictured in a court sketch giving evidence during the murder trial of her husband Army sergeant Emile Cilliers at Winchester Crown Court

Mrs Cilliers (pictured arriving at court), said although she had made comments 'threatening suicide' in the past, she was not attempting to take her own life when she jumped out of the plane on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mrs Cilliers (pictured arriving at court), said although she had made comments 'threatening suicide' in the past, she was not attempting to take her own life when she jumped out of the plane on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

On Tuesday, Mrs Cilliers was asked about previous comments she had made about 'threatening suicide' as she battled a form of depression and suspicions of her husband's infidelity. 

Asking about her emotions on the day of the jump, Elizabeth Marsh QC, defending, said: 'How were you feeling on this day?'

Mrs Cilliers replied: 'Very emotional, upset. Not suicidal.'

Ms Marsh then asked: 'Did you do anything either accidentally or intentionally to manipulate your parachute?' and the physiotherapist answered 'No'.

Prosecutor Michael Bowes QC said it was 'common ground' that slinks had been removed from the parachute and she was asked by defence counsel if she had been responsible.

Former Army captain Mrs Cilliers said: 'Yes, I have been asked, no I did not try to kill myself.'

Emile Cilliers, 37, pictured arriving at court earlier this week

Emile Cilliers, 37, pictured arriving at court earlier this week

Asked if that was her answer under oath, she replied: 'I was not trying to kill myself that afternoon.'

Mr Bowes also questioned her over evidence in cross-examination where she suggested she could not remember if she used a tool on the gas lever as she investigated a suspected gas leak at their home the week on March 30, 2015.

Mrs Cilliers, when asked earlier by Ms Marsh about whether she used to tools, told the jury: 'I tried to see if it was something I could fix.

'I cannot remember. I could have done.'

The court previously heard a gas engineer called to the property that day found a loose nut on a gas isolation valve in a cupboard next to the oven.

Dried blood was also found on the pipe which the jury has heard was a match for the defendant, who said he used a pair of mole-grip adjustable locking pliers to try and tighten the nut before the engineer arrived.

Later, Mr Bowes questioned Mrs Cilliers over her comments, saying: 'Are you just trying to help him (the defendant) on this point because you think it helps him?'

The witness replied: 'No I cannot remember.'

'You did not use the pliers on anything did you?' the prosecutor asked, to which the witness replied: 'I don't remember.'

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