Ex-army commando who blamed Afghanistan trauma for stabbing two neighbours to death in parking space feud NEVER served on frontline, detective reveals
An ex-commando who claimed he stabbed his neighbours to death because he was triggered by their security light never served on the frontline, an investigating officer has revealed.
Collin Reeves killed Stephen and Jennifer Chapple in a frenzied attack using a ceremonial dagger he had been given on leaving the Royal Engineers
Collin Reeves, 34, killed Stephen and Jennifer Chapple in a frenzied attack in November last year in their home Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, Somerset in using a ceremonial dagger he had been given on leaving the Royal Engineers.
He is facing an automatic life sentence after a jury found him guilty of killing the couple. Mr and Mrs Chapple were stabbed six-times each and left slumped in a pool of blood in the living room.
Reeves had become involved in a bitter row with his neighbours over where Mrs Chapple, 33, parked her car and he blamed them for putting strain on his marriage.
Earlier that evening Reeves’ wife Kayley has asked him for a trial separation, telling him she could no longer take any more of his ‘s***’.
Reeves claimed his neighbours security light triggered warzone flashbacks and blamed the incident on PTSD from his time in the Afghanistan war, telling officers: ‘I was just doing my job, it was an operation.’
He denied their murder but admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
But after the jury at Bristol Crown Court reached a unanimous verdict and found him guilty on both counts, Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Neil Meade revealed that he was ‘never exposed to frontline action’ during the war.
Mr and Mrs Chapple were stabbed six-times each and left slumped in a pool of blood in the living room.
Reeves denied murder but admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility
He branded him a ‘trained killer’ who had exploded in a ‘senseless act’ of violence.
‘He has given his reasons why he did it but on a personal level I don’t buy his argument,’ he said.
‘He saw service in several places around the world including at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. There was evidence to suggest that Reeve’s character changed once he came back from Afghanistan.
‘But there was nothing we’ve found in his military records to suggest that the actions he undertook in November 2021 were anything but out of the ordinary.
‘His commanding officers were complimentary about his time in Afghanistan and within the army in general.
‘When he was in Afghanistan he wasn’t exposed to any frontline action. His duties included working in the hospital where he would have seen injured comrades come back.
‘In fact, one of his troop commanders was killed while he was working in the hospital in Afghanistan but there’s no direct evidence there was any frontline experience or action in the warzone.’
Jennifer and Stephen Chapple were each stabbed six times while their children lay asleep upstairs in their Norton Fitzwarren home
Reeves stabbed the Chapples to death using his ceremonial dagger
Instead, Mrs Chapple parked her small sky-blue car on the road but in doing so slightly blocked the space used by Reeves, whose car had already been damaged by Mr Chapple reversing
Bristol Crown Court heard how Reeves and his wife had initially been friendly with their neighbours, but their relationship soured last May after Mrs Chapple passed her driving test and bought a car.
Their part of the new-build estate they lived on only had parking for one car per household and Mr Chapple, 36, already used their designated space for his vehicle.
Instead, Mrs Chapple parked her small sky-blue car on the road but in doing so slightly blocked the space used by Reeves, whose car had already been damaged by Mr Chapple reversing.
What started as a trivial argument became more and more toxic as the months went by.
Mrs Chapple had been left intimidated when Reeves showed up at the garden centre cafe where she worked and stared at her, while she had numerous clashes with his wife.
One such exchange between both women happened on November 11, ten days before the killings, and the defendant confronted his neighbour later that evening in a foul-mouthed rant captured on a Ring doorbell camera.
He was heard accusing Mrs Chapple of ‘f***ing gobbing off you cheeky little b****.
The victim replied ‘she’s the one who started it, just f*** off’ to which he responded ‘what’s that you f****** c***, you fat b****, you f****** … f****** c***’.
On the night of the double murder, Reeves had returned home after taking his children to the Christmas lights switch-on in Taunton and had just put them to bed when his wife asked for a two-week trial separation.
Reeves and his wife (pictured right) had initially been friendly with their neighbours, but their relationship soured last May after Mrs Chapple passed her driving test and bought a car
Reeves was taken into custody following the killings, which came after a long and bitter row about car-parking space during which he called Mrs Chapple a ‘f****** f****** c***’
CCTV captured on November 11, 2021, showing Reeves and Mrs Chapple in a foul mouthed row outside their homes ten days before she was killed
He sat for a while on the stairs crying but then went down and took the back off a picture frame where he kept his ceremonial dagger along with treasured images of his time in the military.
Clutching the knife, he went outside after 9pm and used a compost bin to climb over the nearly 6ft-high fence into his neighbours’ back garden.
Footage from a security camera on the Chapples’ home showed him drop down and immediately duck below a window so he could not be seen from those inside the property.
He had entered the house through the back door leading to the living room, stabbing teacher Mr Chapple first, who is believed to have gone to investigate who was outside, before attacking Mrs Chapple as she sat on the sofa.
The couple’s two sons were asleep upstairs at the time but did not wake up and were unharmed.
The jury was played a clip in which Reeves is heard shouting ‘die you f****** die’ as Mrs Chapple screams.
He climbed back over the fence, returned home and rang police, telling them: ‘I went round with a knife, I’ve stabbed both of them.’
His parents, Brian and Lynn Reeves, who had been called by the defendant’s wife, arrived soon afterwards and found him pale and in shock.
In the 999 call to police he can be heard in the background justifying the killings to his mother by saying ‘I had to stop them tormenting Kayley’.
Giving evidence earlier this week, Reeves said he remembered little about what happened other than a bright light of the Chapples’ security camera coming on when he climbed into their garden.
He said: ‘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.’
At times during the trial Reeves was clearly distraught. The court was played a clip in which Reeves shouted: ‘die you f****** die’
Reeves’ wife Kayley (pictured here arriving at Bristol Crown Court) wept and was able to hold her husband’s hand in the gaps in the glass of the dock for a few seconds before he was led to the cells
Reeves, pictured at his first court appearance at Taunton Magistrates’ Court, called both the police and his mother and admitted to stabbing the couple
After Friday’s verdict, the family of Mr and Mrs Chapple said in a statement: ‘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.’
Det Insp Mead added: ‘It was a totally senseless act on what was on the face of it a minor dispute between two families.
‘It’s quite a common occurrence on estates such as theirs where parking is a premium and led to the deaths of two innocent victims.
‘I don’t want to have a go at planners but nowadays with land at a premium and families generally having two cars this might be an issue – but non-one could have foreseen what happened on that tragic day.
‘After coming out of the Army it was well known in the local community that Reeves had done a Commando course in 2010 and was a trained killer.
‘As an ex-military man his wife had warned neighbours against messing with him because of his background.
‘My heart and all those at Avon and Somerset Police goes out to Jennifer and Stephen’s families and in particular, their two boys.
‘For reasons only Reeves knows, he robbed them of their parents, destroying the lives they knew in a matter of minutes. His actions are beyond comprehension.’