08 June 2022

Ex-soldier ‘stabbed married couple to death while their children slept upstairs’

08 June 2022

A former soldier stabbed a young married couple in their home while their children slept upstairs using the ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the Army, a court has heard.

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

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, 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.

Flowers at the scene in Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, in November 2021 (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

He then launched a frenzied minute-long attack on the couple in their living room, stabbing both “multiple times” in the living room, the court heard.

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

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

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

Mrs 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 said.

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 said, indicating the speed of the attack.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Collin Reeves, left, of Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, at Taunton Magistrates’ Court in November 2021 (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Archive)

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 this was true.

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

Just a few days before the attack, Mrs Chapple was the victim of a “particularly unpleasant verbal assault” by Reeves, Mr Feest said, captured on the victims’ Ring Doorbell camera.

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

He accused 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***”.

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.

Police at the scene in Dragon Rise in November 2021 (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

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

A recording device in their bedroom captures Mrs Reeves apparently saying “There’s only so many years I can take your shit,” the jury heard.

Mrs 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.

Mrs 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.

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, which is expected to last for eight days, continues.

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