AN Army sergeant attempted to murder his wife by removing vital parts of her parachute, causing her to spin thousands of feet to the ground, because he wanted to leave her for his Tinder lover, a court has heard.

Emile Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of two charges of attempting to murder his former Army officer wife Victoria Cilliers who suffered multiple serious injuries at Netheravon Airfield, on Salisbury Plain, on April 5 2015.

Cilliers, 37, 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.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, said that the murder bids came as Cilliers told his lover, who he met through the Tinder dating app, that he was leaving his wife, a physiotherapist for the army.

He said that the defendant had created a lie for his lover that he was leaving his wife, because he was not the father of one of his children, because his wife had been having an affair.

He added that the defendant, who was also having a sexual relationship with his previous wife, Carly Cilliers, had debts of £22,000 and he believed he would be set to receive a £120,000 insurance payout on her death.

Mr Bowes said: "Victoria, known as Vicky, Cilliers, a highly-experienced parachutist and parachute instructor, was involved in a near-fatal parachute fall at the Army Parachute Association Camp at Netheravon, Wiltshire.

"When she jumped out of the plane at 4,000ft (1,200m), both her main parachute and her reserve parachute failed, causing her to spiral to the ground.

"Those attending at the scene expected to find her dead, although she was badly injured, almost miraculously she survived the fall.

"Those at the scene immediately realised that something was seriously wrong with her reserve parachute, two vital pieces of equipment which fasten the parachute harness were missing.

"Their absence inevitably meant the reserve parachute would fail and would send her spinning to the ground."

He continued: "The police investigation was widened to include the circumstances of a gas leak at Emile Cilliers' and Victoria Cilliers' home a few days before, and it was discovered that Emile Cilliers had deliberately caused a gas leak at the house just before he left the house to stay elsewhere."

Mr Bowes said that by the time of the two alleged murder attempts, Cilliers "cared little" for his wife and treated her with "callousness and contempt".

He said: "The prosecution case is Emile Cilliers attempted to kill her by means of a deliberate gas leak and within hours of that failed attempt, despite his complete disinterest by then to Victoria, he suggested that she might like to go parachuting the following weekend.

"The prosecution case is that he had by now decided to get rid of her permanently."

Cilliers, of Aldershot, Hampshire, denies two charges of attempted murder and one of damaging a gas fitting belonging to his wife, reckless to endangerment of life.

Mr Bowes said that, on the night of the gas leak - March 29, 2015 - Cilliers had left his wife at their home in Amesbury to stay at his Army barracks to avoid the Monday morning traffic.

He said the following morning Mrs Cilliers contacted him saying she could smell gas and had found it was coming from a gas valve in a kitchen cupboard next to the oven.

Dried blood on the gas fitting was later found to be a full DNA match to the defendant, the court was told.

Mr Bowes added that forensic examination of the fitting showed force had been used to loosen it but not to tighten it.

Mr Bowes said Mrs Cilliers sent her husband a WhatsApp message saying jokingly "Are you trying to kill me?", to which he replied "Seriously, why are you saying that?"

He said she had got the idea from a True Life magazine readers' story entitled: "My husband tried to kill me".

Mr Bowes said: "That prescient WhatsApp message turned out to be true."

He said the defendant sent his lover, Stefanie Goller, several messages saying that he was leaving his wife.

In one message he wrote: "I am massively in love with the most amazing woman in the world. My girlfriend is awesome."

In another he said: "I will sacrifice and give up so much for you."

The court heard that he told her "only three people" knew that he and his wife had split and also said he had taken a paternity test for his youngest child.

He told her a lie that the child was not his and sent her a message saying: "I was just so scared I would lose you if it was mine."

He then sent her another message saying: "My girlfriend is an amazing person, I feel so lucky to have her, sorry you are going to have a lot of things about my girlfriend from now on."

Mr Bowes said: "What he is showing towards Victoria and Stefanie Goller is utter callousness and extreme contempt."

He added: "He couldn't care less, he wanted to be with Stefanie, he wanted a new life and treated Victoria with contempt, he had no interest in spending time with her, he wanted to be out and away from her.

"With his absolute disinterest in her, how likely is it that he would suddenly think, after all this, that 'I must give Victoria a treat and give her something she really wants to do like parachuting'?"

The case continues