Ex-soldier Collin Reeves found guilty of murdering neighbours after row over parking

17 June 2022, 14:21 | Updated: 17 June 2022, 18:19

Reeves was convicted of murdering his neighbours
Reeves was convicted of murdering his neighbours. Picture: Facebook

By Asher McShane

A former soldier has been found guilty of murdering his next-door neighbours after a row over parking.

Collin Reeves, 35, killed Stephen and Jennifer Chapple with a ceremonial military dagger at their home in Somerset while the victims' children slept upstairs.

Reeves had previously admitted manslaughter but denied murder by reason of diminished responsibility but was convicted at Bristol Crown Court today of murdering the couple at their home in November last year.

Afghanistan veteran Reeves, who served with the Royal Engineers and completed the gruelling commando training, used the ceremonial dagger he had been given when he left the army to kill the couple at their home in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset.

Former soldier Collin Reeves has been found guilty of killing his neighbours
Former soldier Collin Reeves has been found guilty of killing his neighbours. Picture: Facebook
Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed to death by Reeves
Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed to death by Reeves. Picture: Alamy

Stephen and Jennifer's two young sons were asleep in bed upstairs at the time.

Reeves, also of Dragon Rise, had been involved in a long-running dispute with the couple over designated parking on the new-build housing development.

He was caught on a security camera climbing the fence separating his garden from the victims' garden, and entering through the back door.

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

Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed to death at their home
Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed to death at their home. Picture: Avon and Somerset police

Mrs Chapple, 33, did not even have a chance to stand up from the sofa to defend herself while Mr Chapple, 36, was found close to the rear door.

Reeves called the police to tell them what he had done, but later denied murder and instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

On Friday, a jury at Bristol Crown Court found him guilty of murder after five hours and 21 minutes of deliberations.

In a statement, the family of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple said: "No verdict will bring back our beautiful Jennifer and Stephen. If anything, these past 10 days have prolonged us finding out how Jennifer and Stephen spent their final moments."

"The support of our friends and family has been what has got us through the past seven months. The support we have received from Jennifer and Stephen's friends shows how loved they both were."

The statement added: "We now ask that we are left to process this in our own way, to be able to grieve properly and move forward as best we can.

"We will now focus on Jennifer and Stephen's beautiful boys helping them to live the life that Jennifer and Stephen would have wished for them."

The couple were stabbed to death in their Somerset home
The couple were stabbed to death in their Somerset home. Picture: Alamy

The court heard the Chapples and Reeves previously had a good relationship but it had deteriorated when Mrs Chapple learned to drive and bought a second car.

Rows over parking spaces escalated to the point that both Reeves' wife Kayley and Mrs Chapple had told their friends they were anxious about bumping into each other on the school run.

Ten days before the killings, Reeves was caught on a door bell camera approaching Mrs Chapple outside her house following an earlier exchange between her and Mrs Reeves.

He accuses Mrs Chapple of "f***ing gobbing off you cheeky little bitch".

The victim replies "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***".

The Reeves had also been having trouble in their marriage, and less than an hour before he stabbed the Chapples, Mrs Reeves had asked her husband for a trial separation.

After the killings, Reeves was recorded in the background of the 999 call telling someone, believed to be his mother Lynn, "I couldn't let her (or them) torment Kayley any more".

Reeves said he had little memory of the incident but recalled sitting on the stairs in tears after the conversation with his wife.

He claimed he did not remember taking his dagger out of the picture frame in which it was usually displayed.

The defendant, who had previously recounted his fear of CCTV cameras and being under surveillance, said the next thing he recalled was a bright light coming on, and trying to get down on his front.

"I felt as though I had been seen or compromised, white light was a trigger when I was a soldier, when a light goes on or somebody sets off a flare, when that white light goes up something is going to happen," Reeves said.

Asked what else he remembered, the defendant said: "I had a feeling like it was me or them."

Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, asked: "When your wife said you needed to have a separation, did you at least, in part, blame Jennifer because she had tormented (your wife)?" the prosecutor asked.

Mr Feest added: "I can't let her or them 'torment Kayley' - I want to suggest that this is an accurate expression of why you went around to your neighbours that night. I'm going to suggest that's the truth."

At the police station he appeared confused and gave his name as "Lance Corporal Reeves, sir" and his service number.

Two forensic psychiatrists concluded Reeves was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, but diagnosed him with moderate and mild depression respectively.

Both said he could be suffering from "dissociative amnesia" - a condition common in perpetrators of domestic homicide when they are unable to process what they have done.

Dr John Sandford, for the prosecution, said: "This is nothing to do with depression - it's a reaction to a traumatic act, something that is usually a reaction to something you've done rather than something done to you."