It is a spine-chilling story involving an adulterous army sergeant's plot to murder his wife by sabotaging her parachute, her miraculous survival from a 4,000 feet jump, and a police investigation which came at a great personal price to the detectives working on the case.
In a new true crime podcast from ITV News, No Strings Attached explores the inside story of Emile Cilliers' plot to kill his wife Vicky so he could claim her life insurance, clear his debts, and begin a new life with his secret lover - as told by those involved in the case.
Across eight episodes - with rare and revealing interviews - we look at the police investigation to bring Emile Cilliers to justice. Along the way, detectives uncover his double life of lies, sex parties and payday loans. They also witness the extent of Emile's coercive, controlling relationship with Vicky. In court, she stood and gave evidence backing her husband, above the detectives who were trying to bring him to justice.
Two new episodes will be released every Tuesday between 14 July and 4 August. Listen and subscribe to No Strings Attached on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast providers. You can also listen using the player below:
Scroll down for a guide to each episode, including extra video content
Episode 1: FreefallIt is Easter Sunday, 2015. Strapped to Vicky Cilliers' back is a parachute which had been sabotaged. How does she survive the fall from 4,000 feet? It doesn’t look like a crime, but the skydiving centre call in police to help the inquiry. But when detectives start looking, they uncover a secret world of sex, lies, deceit and payday loans. And the saboteur has been clever. There is no real proof this is anything but an accident. Wiltshire Police detectives start looking into the lives of this ‘picture-perfect’ couple in an inquiry which would impact the investigators in a way they could never foresee.
'I think we should be getting the police involved': Watch the moment instructor Mark Bayada discovers Vicky's parachute has been tampered with
Episode 2: SlinkiesDetective Constable Maddy Hennah tells how a phone call from a friend of Vicky Cilliers made her look more closely at the private life of her army sergeant husband. DC Hennah joins with two other experienced detectives to form a trio who make it their professional goal to solve this remarkable case. They start by asking the question of the 4,000-foot fall Vicky survived: Was it an accident, a malfunction or sabotage? As Vicky continues her miraculous recovery, the detectives wonder what kind of home and husband she’s returning to. And Emile Cilliers offers detectives an explosive admission.
Episode 3: Is The Stove Working? Detectives Paul Frankin and Mark Lewis tell of the trauma of breaking heartfelt, dreadful news to Vicky Cilliers after her husband’s arrest. She is furious police have arrested her husband over her attempted murder. Vicky has her own revelation which stuns the experienced detectives and sets the inquiry in yet another new direction.
Episode 4: Lifting The Mask The secret life Emile Cilliers has been concealing from his life is exposed. We visit the sex club which banned the army sergeant. Police receive back an analysis of the download from Emile Cilliers' phone, exposing the scale of his infidelity and deceit. They sift through the 32,000 messages between Emile, his conquests and escorts.
Episode 5: Overlooked And Overwhelmed The detectives all believe Emile Cilliers tried to murder his wife Vicky, but they still have no direct evidence. Wiltshire Police is buffeted by multiple large-scale, complex, politically-sensitive inquiries, meaning the trio of detectives are left overlooked and overwhelmed - with one realising just how close to home this inquiry is taking her. A revelation in Emile Cilliers' text messages leads police to ask more questions of their prime suspect. 'Who put the parachute in the locker?': Detective Maddy Hennah questions Emile Cilliers
Watch Robert Murphy's ITV News report from 2015 when news of the parachute plot first broke
Episode 6: Cold Blooded Logic What is a coercive, controlling relationship? And how do you spot the signs? Emile Cilliers’ teenage sweetheart reveals how the army sergeant began an alarming pattern of behaviour in early life. And we meet the daughter whose first memory has left her scarred. One of the country’s leading clinical psychologists describes how he helped the police frame their questioning and approach to Cilliers. And detectives confront Cilliers in a police interrogation.
Episode 7: Sleeping Dog Emile Cilliers is charged with Vicky’s attempted murder - but court proceedings fall into chaos. Police wonder how Vicky will perform in the witness box. Will the miracle fall survivor support the prosecution or her murderous husband? And the man in the dock seems to enjoy the spotlight of attention which being a star defendant offers him. Episode 8: Trials and Tribulations The trio of detectives - Maddy Hennah, Mark Lewis and Paul Franklin - tell ITV News how they launched a final legal assault against attempted murder suspect Emile Cilliers. The lead prosecutor Michael Bowes QC describes how he altered his strategy to try to win justice for Vicky Cilliers, even though she herself was a hostile witness. And in this final episode, the detectives reflect on how this wide-ranging inquiry affected them.
Watch Robert Murphy's ITV News report from May 2018 on the day Emile Cilliers was found guilty
Sources of supportOne of the topics this podcast explores is coercive and controlling relationships. If you are in a controlling relationship, or know someone who may be in one, the following helplines and sources of support are available:
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