The case of a British Army sergeant who was found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute was one of the most salacious of the summer. Emile Cilliers tampered with the equipment that he knew his wife, Victoria Cilliers, a highly experienced parachute instructor was going to use, days after trying to kill her via a gas leak at home.
The broadcaster has commissioned the doc, which has the working title of Parachute Murder Plot, from Optomen, the All3Media-owned indie best known for producing shows such as Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word and Great British Menu. It is the latest crime doc by the company for ITV following James Bulger: A Mother’s Story. Optomen is run by joint CEOs Tina Flintoff and Nick Hornby (no relation to the author).
Cilliers was jailed for life for the plot and was told by a judge at the Winchester Crown Court that he must serve a sentence of at least 18 years.
Victoria Cilliers survived the 4,000ft fall at Netheravon airfield, Wiltshire, in April 2015. She survived after her main parachute and reserve shoot were sabotaged thanks to the soft soil of the field she landed in and her light weight.
Emile Cilliers, who was plagued with debt and had taken out a series of loans from friends, family and payday lenders, had hoped to cash in on his wife’s life insurance payout to start a new life with his lover. Police called him “dangerous, cold, callous and selfish” and a man who only cares about “money and sexual conquests”.
All of this will be featured in the doc, which was commissioned by ITV Controller of Factual Jo Clinton-Davis. It will air later this year. The doc will be hosted by British presenter Fiona Bruce and will be part of ITV’s Crime and Punishment strand.
It will feature exclusive access to ten hours of previously unseen police tapes and Bruce will meet people directly involved in the story, many who have never spoken before. She will shed new light on the crime itself, the investigation and the subsequent prosecution as Emile sought to use his charm to evade justice, and very nearly succeeded. She will report on what the determined police effort to bring him to justice and explore what the case tells us about the hidden epidemic of domestic violence.