Ex-soldier 'stabbed married couple at home with ceremonial dagger in parking row'

8 June 2022, 15:34 | Updated: 8 June 2022, 15:48

Collin Reeves has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple.
Collin Reeves has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple. Picture: Shutterstock/Facebook/LinkedIn

By Emma Soteriou

A former soldier stabbed a young married couple in their home in Somerset using a ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the army, a court has heard.

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Collin Reeves, who is on trial at Bristol Crown Court, is accused of the murder of his neighbours, Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, on the evening of November 21.

He had been involved in an ongoing dispute with the couple over designated parking on the new-build housing development, the court heard.

On the night of the killing, the 35-year-old defendant climbed the fence separating his garden from the victims', and entered via the back door.

The court was told that he then launched a frenzied minute-long attack on the couple in their living room, stabbing both "multiple times".

The jury was shown a clip from the Chapples' back door camera of Reeves climbing their fence and entering their house.

A few seconds later Ms Chapple can be heard screaming in terror, with Reeves shouting "die you f****** die".

The clip was so upsetting that several of the victims' family members in the public gallery chose to leave court before it was played.

Read more: Neighbour charged with murders of husband and wife in Somerset

Collin Reeves is on trial at Bristol Crown Court
Collin Reeves is on trial at Bristol Crown Court. Picture: Shutterstock

Ms Chapple, 33, suffered six stab wounds to her upper chest and shoulder, causing fatal injuries to a major blood vessel and her heart, prosecutor Adam Feest QC said.

She did not even have a chance to stand up from the sofa to defend herself, Mr Feest added.

Mr Chapple, 36, was found close to the rear door and had also suffered six stab wounds as well as three other minor injuries.

Neither had any defensive injuries, Mr Feest went on to say, reflecting the speed of the attack.

The jury was told that Reeves, who was a commando engineer with the British Army, has admitted killing the couple and has pleaded guilty to their manslaughter.

He claims he was suffering an "abnormality of mental functioning", and jurors were told it will be their job to decide whether it is true.

After the killings, Reeves climbed back over the fence and rang the police to tell them he had stabbed his neighbours.

Read more: Pictured: Husband and wife killed 'in row over parking' as two men are arrested

Jennifer Chapple was murdered in her home.
Jennifer Chapple was murdered in her home. Picture: Facebook

It came days after Ms Chapple was the victim of a "particularly unpleasant verbal assault" by Reeves, Mr Feest said, captured on her Ring Doorbell camera.

The jury was shown a clip of Reeves approaching Ms Chapple outside her house on November 11 following an earlier exchange between the victim and Reeves' wife, Kayley Reeves.

He accused Ms Chapple of "f***ing gobbing off you cheeky little bitch".

The victim replied "she's the one who started it, just f*** off" to which he responds "what's that you f****** c***, you fat bitch, you f****** ... f****** c***".

Mr Feest said: "The rights and wrongs of [the dispute] may matter not a jot, but it is clear that it was a source of stress that affected both families."

Reeves had also been suffering problems in his own marriage, the jury was told.

Reeves was a commando engineer with the British Army
Reeves was a commando engineer with the British Army. Picture: Shutterstock

As well as the dispute over parking, on the evening of the killings, Ms Reeves had told her husband that she wanted to try a trial separation.

A recording device in their bedroom captured Ms Reeves apparently saying: "There's only so many years I can take your s**t."

Ms Reeves told police that in response he went downstairs, then came back upstairs, before descending again and then going outside.

"It was at this point that she heard screaming," Mr Feest said.

Ms Reeves called her mother and father-in-law when she noticed that the ceremonial dagger was missing from the picture frame in which it was usually displayed alongside photographs of Reeves' time in the army.

Stephen Chapple was killed alongside his wife.
Stephen Chapple was killed alongside his wife. Picture: LinkedIn

Mr Feest said: "Whether it was this parking dispute, tensions within the defendant's marriage, or a combination of these things which led the defendant to kill his neighbours is unclear.

"When he was questioned by the police in interview about his actions, the defendant chose to exercise his right to silence."

The jury was told it will hear evidence from two psychiatrists about Reeves' mental state.

The trial - expected to last eight days - continues.