A skydiver who plunged 13,000ft to the ground may have tried to make his death look like murder, an inquest heard yesterday.
Stephen Hilder carried out the correct safety procedures before his fateful jump in July 2003 and during his freefall to the ground.
Mr Hilder, aged 20, an Army cadet, fell to his death at Hibaldstow Airfield, north Lincolnshire, after both his main and reserve parachute had been deliberately sabotaged.
Tony Butler, an accident investigator with the British Parachute Association, said: "If you were going to do this to yourself, you would not go through all these emergency drills."
The coroner Stewart Atkinson commented: "Unless you wanted it to look like murder."
Mr Butler did not disagree with the coroner, but added: "Our opinion is that if someone is going to commit suicide it does not seem logical that they cut all the risers [straps], switch on the automatic activation device [which allows the parachute to open without human intervention at a certain height] and then carry out all the emergency drills in free fall."
Mr Butler said the death of Mr Hilder was unique and he had never come across a total sabotage of a parachute rig before.
"Never in all my years have I come across any incident like this," he told the hearing.
He said about 200,000 jumps were carried out in the UK each year and in the past 20 years there had been nearly three deaths a year on average.
He said since 1982 he had investigated 60 deaths in the UK. The majority of these were caused by collisions or by deploying the parachute too low.
The investigator said he had heard of two possible suicides involving skydivers.
In one case, a parachutist did not pull his cord and a detailed letter was left with relatives.
In another the skydiver climbed out of his parachute rig and fell to his death.
Earlier, a graphic video of the body of Mr Hilder as it lay in a cornfield, was played to the court.
Mr Hilder's parents, Paul and Mary, left the hearing in Scunthorpe as the harrowing footage of their son, wearing a blue and grey jump-suit and a blue helmet, was shown.
Forensic officers and parachute experts could be seen removing the parachute from his body and explaining how the equipment worked.
On Wednesday, the inquest heard that Mr Hilder had racked up debts of more than £17,000 and was splitting up with his girlfriend.
The skydiving enthusiast also wrongly assumed that he had failed his degree course.
Detectives said they were convinced he had not been murdered and may have cut his parachute straps.
The inquest heard from several of Mr Hilder's former girlfriends who all described him as a confident and positive person.
Leah Ruth Parle said the Army cadet was not the "type to commit suicide" and he certainly would not do it skydiving.
In a statement read out at the hearing, she said he had a passion for skydiving and was confident around the drop zone.
Claire Johnson, another exgirlfriend, recalled a conversation she had with Mr Hilder in which he spoke about death and his desire not to die young.
In a statement she said: This wasn't really suicide talk. He wanted to do so much in his life."
The coroner also read out statements from Mr Hilder's parents.
They both gave detailed accounts of his upbringing, education and hobbies.
His mother Mary said: "He was a person of contrasting personality traits. He could be an extremely private person, comfortable in his own company. He could also be extremely sociable."
His father Paul added in a statement: "Although he was a social person he was also a private person."
The inquest was told Mr Hilder had a strong Christian faith and had converted to Catholicism shortly before his death.
The inquest continues.