CHUTE TO kill
the shocking case of the army sergeant who SABOTAGED his wife’s skydive
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.
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