Love rat who tried to kill wife in parachute plot gets life sentence
A South African-born soldier who cheated on his wife and tried to kill her by sabotaging her parachute was jailed for life in the UK on Friday.
Emile Cilliers— whose parents Stoltz and Zaan live in Betty’s Bay‚ in the Western Cape — will serve a minimum of 18 years for trying to gas his wife Victoria then tampering with her parachute in 2015. He aimed to collect a life insurance payout of about R2.1-million‚ but was convicted of two counts of attempted murder.
Four years earlier‚ the couple married at the Twelve Apostles Hotel‚ in Cape Town. After Cilliers’ conviction in May at Winchester Crown Court‚ Victoria said he is a “kind and loving” man. She said she refused to accept he tried to kill her and had no plans to divorce him.
But the prosecution described the 38-year-old British army sergeant as a “charmless‚ unfaithful‚ penniless scoundrel”‚ and in his sentencing remarks on Friday Mr Justice Sweeney told him: “This was a wicked offense of extreme gravity.
“Your two attempts to murder your wife ... were planned and carried out in cold blood for your own selfish purposes‚ which include financial gain.”
Victoria broke her back‚ pelvis and ribs when she plunged to the ground from 1‚200m after her main and reserve parachutes failed‚ and the judge said it was a miracle she survived.
“She appears to have recovered from the physical harm but not‚ having seen her in the witness box at length‚ from the psychological harm‚” he said.
The jury heard that Cilliers‚ a father of six‚ was involved in at least two extra-marital affairs‚ and was desperate to start a new life with his secret lover‚ Stefanie Goller. He was also sleeping with his ex-wife‚ Carly Cilliers.
Victoria described him as a “boobaholic” and said she knew he was part of a sex club. The court heard that he also solicited prostitutes on the proviso sex was unprotected and he could film the liaison‚ and that he joined a sex club and registered with a swingers’ website.
His first trial collapsed last year when the jury failed to reach a verdict after Victoria admitted she had lied to police about her husband to “get her own back”.
Cilliers grew up in South Africa and became a foreman at his father’s construction company‚ the BBC reported. When he moved to the UK in 2000 he left behind two young children‚ a boy and a girl‚ with their South African mother‚ Nicolene.
After the parachute incident‚ police searched the Cilliers’ family home and found a gas valve had been tampered with. The court was told that when Victoria discovered the leak‚ she sent her husband a WhatsApp message asking him if he was “trying to kill her”.
Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2015‚ Zaan Cilliers said there was “no truth” to allegations that her son tried to kill Victoria.
“I believe in my son‚ I love him‚ he is our child and we know him‚” she said.
“I don’t feel affected by these allegations as I know him and know there is no truth in it. That’s all I can tell you. My lawyer said we can say nothing about this.”
Cilliers was an instructor with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps attached to the Royal Marines. South African media reported that he was from Ermelo in Mpumalanga.