CHUTE TO kill

the shock­ing case of the army sergeant who SABOTAGED his wife’s sky­dive

TV & Satellite Week - - Documentaries -

NEW CRIME

The Parachute Mur­der Plot wed­nes­day, ITV Hd, 9pm

WHEN VIC­TO­RIA CILLIERS woke dur­ing the night of 30 March 2015 and smelled gas in her Wilt­shire home, she jok­ingly texted her hus­band Emile, who was away at the time, ‘Are you try­ing to bump me off?’

The truth was that the Army sergeant had tried to kill his wife by caus­ing the gas leak, and, just days later, he’d try again by sab­o­tag­ing her parachute be­fore a sky­dive.

This week, the story is re­counted by Fiona Bruce in a one-off ITV doc­u­men­tary, fea­tur­ing un­seen po­lice tapes and tes­ti­monies from peo­ple in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and court case, as well as one of Cil­lier’s ex-part­ners.

As soon as Vic­to­ria Cilliers dived out of the plane at 4,000ft, the ex­pe­ri­enced parachutist could sense some­thing was wrong. ‘It just didn’t feel right,’ she says. ‘The lines were twisted – I was spin­ning…’

Luck­ily, she mirac­u­lously sur­vived the fall by land­ing in a newly ploughed field, but she was left with in­juries in­clud­ing bro­ken ribs, a frac­tured spine and frac­tured pelvis. When the Bri­tish Parachute As­so­ci­a­tion later in­spected the parachute, they re­alised that this was no ac­ci­dent.

DOU­BLE LIFE

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that Cilliers was hav­ing an af­fair and had debts. He planned to use his wife’s life in­sur­ance and start over with his girl­friend, Ste­fanie.

Bruce looks at how Cilliers used his charm to keep his dou­ble life se­cret and nearly mur­dered his wife.

‘When he’s in the mo­ment with you, you’re the only per­son in the world,’ re­veals his ex-part­ner, Ni­co­lene Shep­herd. ‘You for­give the bad things be­cause you re­mem­ber these good things.’

The po­lice, judge and jury were less for­giv­ing, and Cilliers was sen­tenced to life, with the se­nior in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, DI Paul Franklin, de­scrib­ing him as a ‘cold, cal­lous, self­ish man who cares only about money and his sex­ual con­quests’.

VIC­TO­RIA AND EMILE CILLIERS IN HAP­PIER TIMES

VIC­TO­RIA CILLIERS ON THE PLANE BE­FORE HER PARACHUTE JUMP

FIONA BRUCE TELLS THE STORY

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