Victoria Cilliers’ husband tried to kill her. But she still appears indecisive about a divorce.
As BBC News reports, Victoria and her husband Emile had been married for several years when they started to have marital issues.
Aware of her husband’s infidelities and tendency to spend money, the UK mom told the Mirror that their marriage took a turn for the worse while she was pregnant with their second child:
“I knew there was stuff — other women on chat sites he contacted and I had seen messages on his laptop. I also knew he had met up with women and I was planning on confronting him. But you have to fight your battles at the right time and, being heavily pregnant, it wasn’t the right time.”
Closer to her due date and terrified at the thought of losing her husband, Victoria sent Emile messages professing her love and her worry that she was failing him as a wife. Meanwhile, Emile, who served as a sergeant in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, was visiting prostitutes and carrying on affairs with other women. He came up with excuses to be away from home as often as possible.
Emile borrowed thousands from Victoria over the years, then compounded his debt by taking out multiple payday loans, borrowing money from friends, and even secretly transferring money from his wife’s account to his own. When Victoria asked about the money, he claimed they had been hacked.
However, Emile was already planning to start a new life with his mistress. And he planned to get the money for his new start from his wife’s life insurance.Screenshot/ITV News
On March 30, 2015, Emile set his first plan into action. While Victoria, their toddler, and their newborn were still sleeping, he opened the gas valve in their home, then went to spend time with his ex-wife/lover.
However, before the gas leak became fatal, Victoria woke up and went to the kitchen to get milk for the children. She smelled the gas and even jokingly texted Emile about the blood on the gas valve, asking if he’d tried to kill her.
Victoria wrote off the gas leak as an accident, but Emile was already getting ready to try again.
Several days later, on Easter Sunday, Emile took his wife skydiving. She was happy that he wanted to do something fun together and took it as a sign that things might be looking up in their marriage.
Victoria was the last to jump from the plane that day. After a few seconds of free-fall, she pulled the cord and knew right away that something was wrong. She told the BBC, “It just didn’t feel right. The lines were twisted. I was spinning.”
A veteran of more than 2,500 jumps, Victoria didn’t panic. She cut away the tangled cords of the parachute and deployed her reserve chute. But then that parachute failed as well and she tumbled to near-certain death.
Rescuers were so certain that Victoria’s fall was fatal that they took a body bag to the spot where she landed. However, in what has been described as a “miracle,” Victoria survived, aided by her small frame and the fact that she landed in a soft, recently plowed field.
Victoria suffered a fractured pelvis, broken spine, broken ribs, and other internal injuries in the fall. While she was in the ICU, Emile came to Victoria’s bedside to ensure that they got all their insurance forms signed. According to the BBC, she told the police:
“He didn’t even say he loved me. He was there counting up my fractures. You get [$1,300] for each break and he was there totting them up.”
It is so rare to have both parachutes fail that the British Parachute Association examined Victoria’s parachutes and determined they had been sabotaged. They reported this to the police, who began an investigation.
It wouldn’t be long before Emile’s infidelities and lies would catch up to him.
Police found messages between Emile and his mistress promising that they would get married, get a house together, and travel. They also found evidence of his debts and reckless spending.
In an early police interview, Emile broke into tears at the thought of being separated from his mistress, whom he called “the love of his life.” Later, he tried to pretend that those tears were for his wife, but investigators weren’t fooled.
As ITV News reports, Emile was charged and found guilty of trying to murder his wife, both by tampering with the gas valve at his home and by sabotaging her parachute. At trial, prosecutors emphasized how Emile had only thought of his own wants and desires and endangered his wife and children in the process.
Phyllida Wilson, an expert in psychopathy who observed the trial, told the BBC that Emile fit the mold of a classic psychopath:
“His interest in risky sports, his complete lack of remorse [for his infidelity], his excessive spending, his womanizing, and his inability to empathize are all on the prescribed list of psychopathic behavior.”
And yet, despite being there for his trial, Victoria told the Daily Mail that she still has trouble believing “that someone you are married to and have children with would be capable of that.”
Victoria explained that she’s felt a great deal of pressure to, “comform” and accept the verdict. She told the Mail:
“My family, friends, everyone seems to think they know more than I do. They see different evidence to me. Because I’m sitting on the fence they [the prosecution] felt the need to try to push me off. I felt bullied and humiliated in court, manipulated, like I was being used as a pawn by the prosecution.”
Even after it’s pointed out that the evidence is overwhelming, Victoria is hesitant to agree. She told the Mail, “I know, which makes it all the harder. But he was my husband. Yes, things might have been breaking down. He’d been unfaithful, he’d had issues with money, but that is not attempted murder.”
Victoria hasn’t spoken to Emile in the three years since he was charged, but she still cares for him as the father of their children. And while she told the Mirror that divorce is inevitable, she also told the Mail that she has no immediate plans to start divorce proceedings.
Conflicted and betrayed, Victoria says her focus is her children, now six and three years old. She says that her daughter has asked why they can’t see her dad. While she knows the children will eventually know the truth, she has no intention of telling them that their father tried to kill their mommy. As she told the Mirror:
“That’s what upsets me and hurts me more than anything — the effect on the children. You want your children to grow up untainted.”
Victoria told the Mail that she still has complicated feelings about Emile, explaining, “I love the husband I used to have, not the one that he became. I don’t know the man he is today. I will always care for the father of my children.”
Emile is still awaiting sentencing for his crimes and maintained his innocence throughout the trial. Wilson told the BBC that she doesn’t believe he would have stopped trying to kill his wife after the failed parachute attempted:
“If the gas didn’t work and the parachute didn’t work, he would have had another go and another go until it was successful.”