ITV News' true crime podcast No Strings Attached focuses on Emile Cilliers' remarkable plot to murder his wife Vicky by sabotaging her parachute - with the plan to claim her life insurance to pay off his debts, and to live with his secret lover.But the story is much more about the controlling relationship Emile had with Vicky. Also at its heart is a small but dedicated team of detectives who fought to bring Emile to justice over three years - at great personal cost to themselves.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 are the key people involved in the case which you'll hear about throughout the podcast series:
Sergeant Emile Cilliers
Emile Cilliers was a sergeant in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps. He was born in South Africa in 1980 and moved to the UK in the early 2000s. He married his first wife Carly soon afterwards. They divorced after having two children. Emile met Vicky when, as a physio, she treated him after he returned injured from an Army skiing trip in 2009. They married in 2011.
Vicky Cilliers is a former Army Captain and now works as a physiotherapist for the Ministry of Defence. She married Emile in 2011. In April 2015 they were living together in Amesbury, Wiltshire with their two young children. She was an Advanced Freefall Instructor, and had completed more than 2,500 jumps before the catastrophic fall.
Detective Constable Maddy Hennah
Maddy Hennah now works for Counter Terrorism Policing South West. In April 2015 she was in Salisbury CID. Maddy joined Wiltshire Police in 2003, working first in Response before becoming a detective. In 2011, she was the Family Liaison Officer to Elaine Pickford, whose daughter was murdered by the Swindon serial killer Christopher Halliwell. She worked in Intelligence in the Salisbury poisonings in 2018. Towards the end of the Cilliers case, Maddy moved to Intelligence in the Modern Slavery Team before her current role.
Detective Sergeant Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis now works for the Major Crime Investigation Team which covers the Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police forces. In 2015 he was in Salisbury CID. He started working in the British Transport Police before transferring to Wiltshire Police in 2004.Detective Inspector Paul Franklin
Paul Franklin now tackles the large County Lines drugs traffic coming into Wiltshire from London as part of a dedicated crime team. In 2015 he was the head of Salisbury CID. He started his policing career with the Metropolitan Police in London in 1991 before moving to Wiltshire Police in 2003. Before Cilliers, he worked on the investigation of the ‘Beasting’ death of Army Private Gavin Williams in 2006. During the Cilliers case, he helped uncover a £2 million cannabis factory in a decommissioned nuclear bunker.
"We were determined...it was a difficult case": Watch detectives Paul Franklin, Maddy Henna and Mark Lewis talk about their investigation to bring Emile Cilliers to justice
Mark Bayada was the Chief Instructor of the Army Parachute Association, based at Netheravon Airfield. He has been skydiving since 1992. He was a witness to the aftermath of Vicky’s fall and an Expert Witness for the Prosecution of Emile Cilliers. It was Mark who decided to call in the police to investigate.
Michael Bowes QC
Michael Bowes QC was the lead prosecutor in the case against Cilliers. He is both a criminal and corporate barrister. He was instructed long before the trial and for many months advised the team of detectives on the type of evidence he would need to present to the jury. Michael is a Deputy High Court Judge, a Recorder and is a joint head of Outer Temple Chambers.Nicolene Shepherd
Nicolene is the mother of Emile Cilliers’ eldest children. They grew up together in Ermelo, a town 130 miles from Johannesburg in South Africa. They started dating at 13. She gave birth to Cilene when she was 16 and Trevor a year later. Cilliers left South Africa to travel to the UK after Cilene’s birth, marrying his first wife Carly without telling Nicolene.