THE trial of a man accused of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute has been told that knots in her lines were most likely caused by missing parts.

Victoria Cilliers, who is from Haddington, plummeted 4,000 feet when her parachute and reserve chute failed as she was skydiving with husband Emile in April 2015.

Witnesses said it was a miracle she survived the fall, which caused multiple injuries.

Emile Cilliers denies two charges of attempting to murder his wife, once by tampering with the parachute and a few days before the incident by tampering with a gas pipe in the kitchen of their home in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Today the boss of the parachute club where army sergeant Emile Cilliers was alleged to have tampered with the parachute told Winchester Crown Court that knots in Mrs Cillier’s lines were most likely caused by missing parts.

Cilliers, 37, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, is also accused of a third charge of damaging a gas valve at the couple’s home.

He denies all three charges.

Mark Bayada, the Army Parachute Association’s (APA) chief instructor at Netheravon airfield, said that he did not know how knots occurred in Mrs Cilliers’ reserve parachute lines.

When asked about how the knots might have occurred, Mr Bayada said: “I absolutely do not know and it’s the first thing I found to be very unusual about the whole thing.”

He said any attempt to deliberately create the knots would have been “quite a lengthy process”.

The court has heard that Cilliers was accused of taking his wife’s packed parachute into the hangar’s toilets, where he is alleged to have tampered with it.

When asked if he felt the sabotage could have taken place within a toilet cubicle with the parachute hung on the coat hook on the rear of the door, Mr Bayada replied: “I do not think so.”

Mr Bayada said that the kit store at Netheravon, where the parachute Mrs Cillers hired for her jump was kept, was never left “unlocked and unmanned”.

Alan Westley, who has been the chief rigger for the APA since September 2013, told the court that reserve parachutes were required to be checked and re-packed every six months and he kept a spreadsheet to organise when each parachute was due to be checked.

The trial continues.

Victoria Cilliers grew up in Haddington as Victoria Kilby.

She lived in a detached house on West Road with parents Michael and Veronica, and younger brother Christopher.

A pupil at Edinburgh Academy, there are pictures of a carefree Victoria and her classmates at their leavers’ ball in the Roxburghe Hotel in the Capital in 1993.

Her mother, who was a nurse, died when she was still in her teens and her father, a retired computer manager, remarried before moving to Dalkeith with second wife Ann several years ago.

Victoria joined the army, working her way up the ranks to captain. She met first husband Captain Liam Fitzgerald-Finch while stationed in England and the couple were married in Haddington in 2004.

Pressures of work were said to have led to the breakdown of her first marriage and Victoria wed second husband Emile Cilliers in his home country of South Africa in 2011.

A skilled skydiver, Victoria was a qualified instructor in the activity.