Sordid double lifetime of monster who tried to kill spouse by tampering with parachute

A husband who attempted to kill his wife by tampering with her parachute led a sordid double life, it has been revealed.

Victoria Cilliers, a 44-year-old mother-of-two, miraculously survived the 4,000ft fall after she landed in a freshly ploughed soft field, narrowly escaping death. She was left with severe injuries, including a broken spine, pelvis, ribs, legs, and collarbone.

Her husband Emile, who led a secret life filled with affairs and financial woes, had tampered with her parachute hoping to benefit from a £120,000 life insurance payout and start anew with his Tinder love interest.

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Emile’s former partner and mother to two of his six children, Nicolene Shepherd, 40, expressed that she had long-held suspicions about Emile’s darker nature: “I have always thought he had a different side to him. It made me feel sick. It’s a sad thing for my children.”

Victoria Cilliers leaving Winchester Crown Court in 2017
Victoria Cilliers leaving Winchester Crown Court in 2017

The harrowing incident and its aftermath will be featured on Channel 4’s documentary-drama ‘The Fall: Skydive Murder Plot’, airing tonight (Tuesday, June 11).

The programme will delve into the dark double life of ex-army sergeant Emile, who not only sought to kill his wife twice but also indulged in numerous illicit activities, including sleeping with prostitutes and engaging in various sordid sexual acts.

The full extent of his sinister past only came to light after he was arrested for the attempted murder of Victoria. Emile and Victoria had exchanged vows in a grand ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011, but investigators soon unearthed that their marriage was far from the fairytale it appeared to be.

Cilliers attempted to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute (pictured) and sabotaging a gas valve at their home
Cilliers attempted to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute (pictured) and sabotaging a gas valve at their home

Ultimately, his double life, intimate messages, and incriminating internet searches led to his downfall. The first major warning sign for Victoria was the shocking revelation that he had two secret children.

Throughout his seven-year relationship with childhood sweetheart Nicolene – the mother of his eldest two children – he was habitually unfaithful.

When Victoria confronted her husband about his secret children with Nicolene, he insisted he had always intended to tell her and begged for her forgiveness.

The couple welcomed their daughter April in 2012 after tying the knot, but soon financial troubles surfaced. Confronted about missing funds, Emile deflected, suggesting they’d been hacked.

His temper would flare, challenging her trust in him, always armed with an excuse. But his facade began to crumble when emails from a sex club appeared on the family computer.

Cilliers was jailed for life in 2018
Cilliers was jailed for life in 2018

Despite his manipulations causing her to doubt herself, Vicky’s suspicions were confirmed at a party where a guest noticed a Tinder notification on Emile’s phone.

Pregnant with their second child, Vicky was fobbed off with a story about a prank by his mates.

However, Emile was leading a double life, regularly delving into Salisbury’s underground sex scene. Fiona Bruce, while filming a documentary, spoke with Ricky Harwood from a now-closed swinger’s club.

Recalling Emile’s visits, Ricky remarked: “He was seen at the glory hole a few times. This was built for a bit of fun because swinging parties are not serious.”

Despite the club’s non-judgemental vibe, Emile found himself ejected for flouting the rules.

The Fall: Skydive Murder Plot airs tonight (Tuesday, June 11) at 6pm on Channel 4.

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