From marriage to murder plot: The series of events that led to Emile Cilliers ending up behind bars

When Vicky married Emile Cilliers, she was looking forward to a long and happy future with the army sergeant. But it wasn't long before cracks started to appear, with him appearing to use his wife as a way of paying for his secret life of escorts and girlfriends. By 2015 he had started to plot to murder Vicky by sabotaging her parachute, so he could be free to spend his time with his secret lover - and claim on a life insurance policy to pay off his debts.

This extraordinary story is the focus of a new true crime podcast by ITV News, No Strings Attached, which explores the parachute murder plot through interviews with the detectives involved in the case, plus those who knew Cilliers.Listen and subscribe to No Strings Attached on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast providers. You can also listen using the player below:

Here is the timeline of events that led to Emile Cilliers being jailed for life for trying to kill his wife: 

2009Five years after divorcing Carly Cilliers, who he had two children with, Emile Cilliers meets Vicky for the first time.2011Emile and Vicky marry in Cape Town, South Africa.May 2013Emile asks for money from Vicky - she transfers it into his bank account.July 2013Emile transfers £6,000 from his Vicky's account into his own without her permission. He tells her the account details have been hacked.November 2014With Vicky about six months pregnant, Emile went to Austria for a month as part of the Army ski team. He meets Stef Goller, and starts an affair with her. December 2014Emile spends a week with Stef Goller in Berlin over New Year.January 2015In text messages to Stef Goller, Emile says that "from April onwards I can do random and spontaneous". He also tells her his marriage to Vicky had been a stupid mistake which he regretted every day.February 2015Stef Goller stays with Emile Cilliers at his barracks in Aldershot for a week, including on Valentine’s Day. On February 16, Stef leaves to travel to Belize. A week later, Vicky gives birth to Emile's child. While Vicky was downstairs at home in the early stages of labour at home, Emile was upstairs sending text messages with Stef.

29 March 2015Emile exchanges over 380 messages with Stef in a single day and tells Vicky he needs to stay at the barracks that night. He arranges with his former wife Carly to have sex with her on the way there. That evening, Emile uses pliers and a wrench to open the top nut on the gas valve in his kitchen before leaving to meet Carly and travel to the barracks.30 March 2015Vicky realises there is a gas leak at home. She contacts Emile, and he effectively suggests that she turns the hob on. She doesn't and takes precautions to avoid an explosion. Emile passes off the leak as being caused by vibrations from nearby building work. His first attempt to kill his wife has failed. But the same day, Emile asks Vicky if she wants to go skydiving at the weekend.4 April 2015Emile, Vicky and their two children went to Netheravon Airfield, where he hired a parachute for Vicky. After he had got it, one of his children said that they wanted to go to the toilet. Emile used this as an opportunity, taking them to the toilet, along with parachute, where he then went on to sabotage the reserve parachute. Bad weather prevents the jump happening until the following day - Emile persuades Vicky to keep the parachute in his locker at the airfield.5 April 2015Vicky returns to Netheravon, whilst Emile stays at home with the children. The weather is still less than ideal, but Emile encourages Vicky in text messages to stay and to jump. In the meantime, he sends loving messages to Stef Goller.Vicky jumps from 4,000 feet, her parachute malfunctions as Emile planned, and she spirals as she falls to earth. She miraculously survives, although she is seriously injured. Chief instructor at Netheravon, Mark Bayada, inspects the chute and suspects sabotage, calling the police.

22 April 2015Vicky is released from hospital.

28 April 2015Emile Cilliers is arrested on suspicion of murder over the sabotaged parachute and is interviewed at Guildford police station. He denies committing any crime.

September 2015Emile Cilliers is arrested on suspicion of murder, this time over the gas leak at his home.

October 2017The trial begins at Winchester Crown Court, but the jury is discharged after seven weeks.

May 2018After a second trial, Emile Cilliers is found guilty of two counts of attempted murder and is sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 18 years.