Emile Cilliers, originally from Ermelo, will serve a minimum of 18 years for trying to gas his wife, Victoria, at home before he tampered with her parachute, sending her plummeting from 4 000ft three days later in 2015.
Victoria Cilliers was at Winchester Crown Court to see him sentenced for two counts of attempted murder. She somehow survived the fall and has said since he is a “kind and loving” man, has refused to accept he did it and has admitted she had no plans to divorce him.
Sentencing Cilliers, Justice Nigel Sweeney said: “This was wicked offending of extreme gravity.
“Your offending was extremely serious with your two attempts to murder your wife. They were planned and carried out in cold blood for your own selfish purposes, which include financial gain.”
Describing the impact on Victoria Cilliers, the judge continued: “That your wife recovered at all was miraculous. She undoubtedly suffered severe physical harm and she must have suffered psychological harm in the terror of the fall and since.”
Emile Cilliers first tried to gas his wife with their children in the house, but the smell alerted her to the danger and she later jokingly texted him to say: “Are you trying to kill me?”
Three days later, he suggested that his wife, an experienced parachutist, go skydiving over the Easter weekend 2015 and then sabotaged her kit on the eve of her 4 000ft jump at Netheravon Airfield, Wiltshire.
He tangled her main canopy and removed vital links from her reserve in a toilet cubicle after he told Victoria one of their children needed the toilet.
The father of six, who the prosecution called a “charmless, unfaithful penniless scoundrel”, was also sleeping with his ex-wife Carly, as well as Victoria Cilliers and a Tinder lover named Stefanie Goller.
The soldier, described as a “boobaholic” by his wife who knew he was part of a sex club, also contacted prostitutes about meeting up on the proviso that sex was unprotected and he could film the liaison - but cancelled after they tried to charge £60 instead of £50. He also signed up to a sex club and swingers’ site.
His first six-week trial collapsed last year when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict after his wife became a “hostile witness” and admitted she had lied to police about her husband to “get her own back”.
But a jury found him guilty of two counts of attempted murder after a retrial that ended last month.
Victoria told Good Morning Britain after his convictions: “It’s such a massive thing to get your head around and I’m still pretty stunned. I’m struggling to accept he tried to kill me I never had any indication that there was another side to him. I hope he didn’t hate me.
“I love the husband I had and I’m grieving for that marriage. We’ve had no contact for the last three years. I’ve been through every emotion under the sun I’ve got children - I can’t be angry or bitter.” - Daily MailTHE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY