Seedy world of parachute murder plotter Emile Cilliers who visited swingers clubs and even hit on interrogator

SKYDIVER Victoria ­Cilliers, who lived after falling 4,000ft when her parachute failed to open, made headlines worldwide.

The mum of two only survived the jump — a gift from husband Emile — because she landed in a soft, recently ploughed field.

Storyfilms TVVictoria Cilliers almost died after her husband Emile sabotaged her parachute[/caption]

Love rat Cilliers wanted to cash in on his wife’s life insurance and start a new life with his loverRex Features

Storyfilms TVThe horror impact is recreated in a three-part Channel 4 series[/caption]

Then, in a horrifying twist, it was discovered that her husband had sabotaged her kit as part of an extraordinary murder plot.

But one person was NOT surprised by the actions of callous Cilliers, 44, who was jailed for life in 2018 — his ex-partner Nicolene Shepherd. She has exclusively told The Sun: “I didn’t want to believe it, but I did.”

Serial love rat Army sergeant Cilliers had tried to kill Victoria to cash in on a £120,000 life insurance so he could clear mounting debts and start a new life with his Tinder lover.

Nicolene, 40, mother to two of his six kids by three different women, adds: “I don’t suppose you ever want to believe that somebody who you have children with could be capable of something like that.

“But then I have always thought he had a different side to him.”

She adds: “It made me feel sick. It’s a sad thing for my children.”

Asked if she thought Cilliers might have tried to kill her, too, Nicolene says: “If I was still in his way, if I didn’t go away quickly enough when he wanted to put me down, then possibly, yes.”

The mother of five spoke out ahead of Channel 4 docu-drama The Fall: Skydive Murder Plot, which looks into the case of Army physiotherapist Victoria’s skydive at Netheravon Airfield, Wilts, on Easter Sunday 2015. She was left with a smashed spine and ­broken pelvis, ribs, leg and collarbone.

‘He turned sinister’

The three-part series, which starts tonight, features dramatised scenes where Victoria, now 47, is played by The Responder actress MyAnna Buring — and also includes interviews with Victoria, Nicolene and police.

Cilliers’ first trial collapsed when a jury failed to reach a verdict.

But after a retrial in May 2018 he was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder — he had also previously tried to kill his wife by causing a gas leak at their home in Amesbury, Wilts.

Police were called to investigate Victoria’s skydive after an inspection of her kit by experts revealed two crucial loops, known as slinks, which attach lines to the harness from a reserve chute, were missing.

 Scottish Victoria first met South African Cilliers in 2009 and they married two years later in Cape Town. They have kids April, 13, and Ben, nine.

Storyfilms TVActress MyAnna Buring plays Victoria Cilliers in the show, which mixes drama and real-life testimony[/caption]

Solent News & Photo AgencyNicolene Shepherd met Cilliers in their native South Africa and has two children with him[/caption]

PA:Press AssociationHandout photo issued by Wiltshire Police of a damaged gas valve in the kitchen of Emile Cilliers, which he allegedly damaged in an attempt to kill his wife Victoria[/caption]

As police investigated her skydive, a friend told them Victoria was locked in a controlling and coercive relationship with Cilliers and she believed he almost certainly had something to do with her parachute malfunction.

In her first newspaper interview, Detective Sergeant Maddy Hennah, from Wiltshire Police, tells The Sun: “Some people’s lives may look perfect but if you dig a little below the surface you may find things aren’t quite as they appear.

“This was the case here, and thanks to that friend contacting us we were able to do a lot more digging into what was really going on.”

Victoria later told officers how, before her jump, her husband had taken her packed parachute into the hangar’s toilets.

DS Hennah, who features in the new TV series, was the officer who arrested Cilliers. Now she reveals he even brazenly tried to come on to her while she interrogated him during his police interview.

She says: “He was thinking he could win me over, but didn’t realise who he was talking to. As a police officer, you understand when somebody is trying to win you round to their advantage.

“I’m there to do a job. If he thinks I’m going to be won over by a wry smile he’s barking up the wrong tree. He realised that quite quickly.”

After his behaviour turned sinister, she was told by her boss that she should never be alone with him. Yet the detective recalls: “His bail conditions included having no contact with his wife, but he had the children’s car seats in his car so I had to collect them from him.

“It wasn’t what he said, but the way he spoke to me. He gave me goosebumps and I didn’t like it. It’s not often in life that men make you feel that. I have been there, seen it, done it. He did make me uncomfortable.”

Sex-mad Cilliers admitted to police that he was cheating on Victoria with Tinder lover Stefanie Goller and his ex-wife Carly, who he also had two children with. Brutally, he said to officers: “It’s not a marriage I want to be in any more.”

The detectives had to break news of his infidelities to Victoria. At first, she refused to believe them. But in a forensic examination of Cilliers’ electronic devices, detectives found tens of thousands of messages between him and Stefanie. In one, he asked his lover to clean her house in the nude while his wife was in hospital.

The investigation also found he regularly slept with sex workers and went to swingers’ clubs.

His internet search history revealed he had looked for a “wet nurse” the night before Victoria was due to jump. Their son was five weeks old at the time and breastfed by her.

As detectives tried to build a case against Cilliers, DS Hennah tracked down Nicolene in Somerset.

The bookkeeper was just 13 when she met Cilliers in their native South Africa and they were friends before they started dating.

Army sergeant Cilliers is seen marrying his wife Victoria in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011

Enterprise News and PicturesThe couple’s marriage was far from picture-perfect[/caption]

Simon Buck / Channel 4Detectives Maddy Hennah and Paul Franklin reveal how they cracked the complex case[/caption]

She recalls how he wooed her with romantic meals and notes but had a dark side — playing “mind games” and threatening her. She says: “Once, when we were still really young, he said if I ever hurt him he’d hurt me ten times as much. Not knowing anything about coercive and controlling behaviour, it was just normal to me.”

She fell pregnant at 16 with their daughter Cilene, now 24. Shortly after the birth Cilliers moved to the UK to study. Unknown to Nicolene she was already pregnant with their son Trevor, now 22.

‘We confronted him’

She says: “He came back quite frequently, though. We were still in a relationship.”

But she was left heartbroken when Cilliers’ mother told her he had got married, to Carly.

 Nicolene moved to the UK herself in 2004 and they later rekindled their romance after he told her he had separated from Carly. Nicolene recalls: “When we reconnected in 2006 he wanted to take me to Snowdonia, which was unusual because I have never been an outdoorsy, adrenalin-freak person like he is.

“I had a fleeting thought that maybe he had something in his mind. I don’t know. Because even then he was in financial trouble.”

Asked whether she thinks he might have tried to push her off a mountain, Nicolene says: “Probably, yes, because I wouldn’t have known if he had taken out life insurance or whatever, being the biological father of my children and suddenly we’d rekindled . . . so it was a fleeting thought.

“But I don’t go too deep down into that rabbit hole. It’s one of those things that pops into your head then flutters away.”

Cilliers is said to have started an affair with Stefanie Goller (above) after meeting her on Tinder

Storyfilms TVNicolene pictured during her interview on for Channel 4’s The Fall[/caption]

The trip to Wales never happened. Nicolene says: “We didn’t go. We didn’t last long enough. I found out he was lying. He was still married to Carly when he told me that they had separated and were headed for divorce.

“She called him and I answered his phone. I asked who it was and she said, ‘His wife’. Then we confronted him together.”

Nicolene cut off ties with ­Cilliers there and then and shortly afterwards she met her now husband, Russell Shepherd, who has been Cilene and Trevor’s father since they were small.

The couple, who married in 2007, have three children, Logan, 16, Travis, 13, and 11-year-old Hudson.

Nicolene adds that she did contact Cilliers again after she found out he was having a sixth child.

She says: “I messaged him on Facebook to tell him what a s**t dad he was and that he’d forgotten about his first two kids and now he’d got a sixth.

“He said if I didn’t leave him alone he would do something that would make me regret it.

“That was August 2014, while he was probably thinking about what he was going to do in 2015.”

After finding out that he had been accused of attempting to kill Victoria, Nicolene messaged him again.

She says: “I said to him on Facebook, ‘Look, I’ve seen what’s happened — hope you’re doing OK’.

“I just wanted to give him the opportunity to say he didn’t do it, but he didn’t. All he said was, ‘Don’t speak to the Press’.”

Nicolene says she is now in a “happy relationship”.

She adds that she is speaking out to show she is no longer under his control and to help raise awareness of coercive behaviour. Nicolene says: “Women need to recognise and understand the signs.”

Asked what she thinks of her ex, she says: “He’s a psychopath, a sociopath — all the ‘paths’.

GettyNicolene rekindled her romance with ex Cilliers after moving to the UK[/caption]

PA:Press AssociationCilliers was found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute and sabotaging a gas valve at their home.[/caption]

“I don’t think he will change, it’s just who he is. You don’t change your blueprint, do you?”

She admits she still lives in fear that Cilliers, who must serve at least 18 years, could one day try to kill her on his release.

Nicolene says: “I’m riddled with anxiety.” But she adds: “I don’t think he would be stupid enough to do it straight away.

“I certainly don’t want to put any ideas in his head.”

The Fall: Skydive Murder Plot starts tonight at 9pm and is available to stream on


VICTORIA tells the TV series how she first met Cilliers in 2009 and “thought I’d found my fairytale”.

She chose not to speak out against him at his trial over her fear of him. She says: “In court, I was very aware of what I was saying, everything was considered. I was careful not to give answers that would directly incriminate Emile. I was aware I’d have to live with the outcome.

“To this day I’m apprehensive talking about it because he could watch this. My heart rate’s gone up thinking what his reaction could be.”

She adds how, even before the skydive, she had longed to fix their rocky relationship.

She says: “It was an addiction. I wanted to go back because I felt great for the first 12 to 18 months. All I could think about was doing my best to get our relationship back to that. He made me feel I was The One. I didn’t want to burst that bubble. I missed what we had at times, when he could be this dynamic, amazing, loving husband. I wanted my original husband back.”

On hearing the guilty verdict she says she felt “numb”.

 Cilliers then even continued to contact her from prison. She recalls: “I became aware he was drawing me back in. He wanted more and more of my time and energy, and the children’s time. I find it hard to hear his side, ‘I love you, I want this, I want that’. I just thought, ‘You’re manipulating me’.

“He asked me, ‘Well, what do you want?’ And I said, ‘I don’t want this. I want a divorce’. And I put the phone down. I felt free. That was the end for me.

Of his crime she said: “He let me say goodbye to my children and was going to bring them up knowing what he’d done. I don’t understand how you could do that.”

The TV series ends with her revisiting the place where, harnessed to an instructor pal, she braved a defiant jump following her 2015 ordeal. She said: “Skydiving had been such a part of my life, I wanted one last jump.

“I was terrified. I did it with a friend in a tandem. Once we left the aircraft it was pure joy, freedom, escapism. I had nothing else to worry about in that time, and the relief when the parachute was open . . .”

She now adds of Cilliers: “He’s quite a sad, sick individual.” Of how he might feel to hear that, she says: “The truth hurts.”

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