Jury In Trial Of Soldier Accused Of Tampering With Wife's Parachute Visits Airfield
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Jury In Trial Of Soldier Accused Of Tampering With Wife's Parachute Visit Airfield

Jury In Trial Of Soldier Accused Of Tampering With Wife's Parachute Visits Airfield

The jury in the trial of an Army sergeant accused of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute has visited the airfield where she survived her "near fatal" fall.

The nine women and three men on the jury in the case of Emile Cilliers were taken by bus from Winchester Crown Court to Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire.

That is where the defendant is alleged to have sabotaged both the main and reserve parachutes of his wife, Victoria Cilliers, on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

On arrival at the Army airfield, the jurors were given an introduction by Detective Constable Maddie Hennah of Wiltshire Police.

During the visit, the High Court judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, and the barristers, Michael Bowes QC, for the prosecution, and Elizabeth Marsh QC, accompanied the jury but did not wear their normal court wigs and gowns.

The jury has been shown videos of the airbase during evidence given by the Army Parachute Association's chief instructor at Netheravon Mark Bayada.

DC Hennah told them: "You will have seen and heard me in the recordings at Netheravon with Mark Bayada, walking around the hangar and demonstrating the rig.

"Today my role is to act as guide, pointing out particular locations. I will read from an agreed script. We are at the Army Parachute Association centre at Netheravon in Wiltshire also known as Netheravon Parachute Centre.

"We will only be viewing the locations thought to feature significantly in this investigation.

"We will pause at each of 20 locations identified on your plan and maps, for you to take a few moments to familiarise yourself with the location; its appearance; its purpose and position relevant to other points.

"Your attention will be drawn to anything thought important at the appropriate time."

The jury were first taken inside the hangar where the parachute kit used by Mrs Cilliers was hired on April 4th, 2015.

They were shown the kit store and mats where the parachutes are packed ready to be used during the jumps as well as a wall of photos depicting different types of parachute malfunctions.

The jurors were then taken to a set of toilets where the prosecution allege the defendant took the parachute to tamper with it before storing it in a locker overnight after poor weather prevented her jumping on the Saturday.

A view of the gentlemen's toilets at Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire, where the prosecution allege that Army sergeant Emile Cilliers tampered with his wife's Victoria Cilliers parachute
A view of the gentlemen's toilets at Netheravon Airfield in Wiltshire, where the prosecution allege that Army sergeant Emile Cilliers tampered with his wife's Victoria Cilliers parachute.

They were also shown a packed Safire 149 parachute, similar to that used by Mrs Cilliers and were given a chance to pick it up to feel its weight as well as take it into the toilets with them.

The locker kept by Mrs Cilliers and the defendant, which is decorated with stickers from various parachute groups, was shown to the jury.

The stickers include one which says "Friends for life", one for the Red Devils and another that says "Girls Kick Ass".

The prosecution claim Cilliers arranged for the tampered parachute to be kept in the locker overnight so it was not discovered before his wife's jump on the Sunday.

The jurors were then shown a parachute canopy hanging in the hangar, the canteen and other offices within the building.

They were then taken to the runway where they were shown an aeroplane used to take parachutists up for their jumps.

The jurors were then taken to the hut used for packing and checking reserve parachutes where a similar one to that used by Mrs Cilliers was on show for them to inspect.

The final point in the visit was the site where Mrs Cilliers landed on her jump which left her with serious injuries.

Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, is on trial for two charges of attempting to murder his former Army officer wife.

The 37-year-old is also accused of a third charge of damaging a gas valve at their home a few days earlier in the second allegation that he attempted to kill his 40-year-old wife.

He denies all three charges.

The trial continues.

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