Skydiver inquiry to release test results

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The family of the skydiver Stephen Hilder are expected to be told this week whether detectives are any closer to solving the mystery of his death, police confirmed yesterday.

Humberside Police said that they have received the results of new forensic tests but will not be releasing details until his parents have been fully informed.

Mr Hilder, who was 20, and from Hereford, plunged 13,000ft to his death last July while competing in a national skydiving contest at Hibaldstow, in Lincolnshire. Although detectives quickly found that straps on both his main and reserve chutes had been cut and despite an extensive investigation, police have been unable to establish who cut them.

Last month, amid speculation that the inquiry team wasworking on the theory that Mr Hilder had taken his own life, Humberside Police announced there had been a "significant development" relating to the forensic side of the inquiry and ordered detailed further tests. The police have always said that a suicide theory is only one of many they are considering.

A police spokeswoman said yesterday: "We have arranged to go and see his family and sit down and discuss the findings of the forensics which have been going on in recent weeks. Only after that will we make any public announcements."

Mr Hilder's death was initially seen as sabotage and two men were briefly held by police before being released. But detectives were unable to find any motive for Mr Hilder's murder and the prospect of a random attack caused alarm in the sky-diving community.

Mr Hilder's girlfriend and fellow skydivers have firmly rejected suggestions of suicide, saying that he appeared to have everything to live for. A student at the Royal Military College of Science in Oxfordshire, he was planning to join the Royal Navy.