Skydiver'schute was sabotaged say police

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The Independent Online
A skydiver died after falling 13,000ft because his parachute had been tampered with, a senior detective said last night.</p>Police have launched a major inquiry into who handled Stephen Hilder's equipment immediately prior to his jump. The 20-year-old, an officer cadet at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham, near Swindon, Wiltshire, was taking part in an annual national parachuting competition.</p>University students from across the UK had travelled to an airfield at Hibaldstow near Brigg, Humberside, to take part.</p>The head of the inquiry, Detective Superintendent Colin Andrews of Humberside Police, described Mr Hilder's death as "horrendous".</p>"The parachute equipment had been tampered with before he jumped. This is extremely unusual," he said.</p>Mr Hilder had made more than 200 jumps and was understood to have belonged to the Army Parachute Association (APA). Based at Airfield Camp in Netheravon, Wiltshire, it is one of the oldest parachute clubs in the world.</p>His equipment was checked on Wednesday night and stored in good working order and the sky-diver was "extremely safety conscious", police said.</p>An APA member, who did not want to be named, described Mr Hilder as a "very nice man". His family, who live in the Hereford area, are said to be "devastated".</p>Police officers have interviewed more than 70 bystanders who witnessed the incident or who were at the airfield at the time.</p>Officers want to speak to anyone who was at the airfield at any time between last Monday and the accident on Friday. </p>