'Depraved' Afghan War veteran jailed for killing neighbours in parking row

·6 min read
Collin Reeves, left, murdered married couple Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, right. (Avon and Somerset Police)
Collin Reeves, left, murdered married couple Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, right. (Avon and Somerset Police)

A 'depraved' former soldier who stabbed his neighbours to death in their home in a row over parking while their children slept upstairs has been jailed for life.

Collin Reeves, 35, a former Royal Engineer, was convicted last week of the murders of neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, at their home in Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset, on 21 November last year.

He was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday to life in prison with a minimum term of 38 years.

Collin Reeves murdered a couple in their home while their children slept upstairs in a row over parking. (Facebook)
Collin Reeves murdered a couple in their home while their children slept upstairs in a row over parking. (Facebook)
Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were murdered by Collin Reeves in their home last November. (Avon and Somerset Police)
Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were murdered by Collin Reeves in their home last November. (Avon and Somerset Police)

Sentencing Reeves, Mr Justice Garnham said the killings had “torn the heart out of two perfectly normal, decent families”.

He told Reeves: “You left (Mr and Mrs Chapple) on the floor bleeding to death, and all of the time their two children were asleep upstairs.

“Your murderous behaviour left them orphans. They were put to bed that night by their parents and they would never see them again. The harm you did those two innocent children is incalculable.”

Mr Justice Garnham said Reeves had also inflicted enormous damage on his own daughters, as they will now grow up without their father.

Collin Reeves on the night he was arrested by police. See SWNS story SWBRverdict. An ex-soldier is facing life in prison after being found guilty of murdering his neighbours with a ceremonial dagger over a parking row. Former commando Collin Reeves, 34, removed the weapon from a frame and went next door. He then stabbed and killed married couple Jennifer, 33, and Stephen Chapple, 36. CCTV showed him scaling his garden fence and entering his neighbour's home and screaming
Collin Reeves on the night he was arrested by police. (SWNS)
Collin Reeves being checked into custody following his arrest.  An ex-soldier has told a jury he was 'triggered' by a neighbour's garden security light into believing he was back in a 'war zone' before stabbing them with his ceremonial dagger.  See SWNS story SWBRsoldier.  Former commando Collin Reeves, 34, was outside with the dagger, which he had removed from a frame on his wall, when the 'flash' of white light put him on high alert, a court heard.  The jury was told he went into the 'buckle' position on the floor - but he claims he remembers nothing about what happened next inside their home.  He has since accepted he used the dagger to stab and kill married couple Jennifer, 33, and Stephen Chapple, 36, who he had fallen out with in a parking row six months previously.  Reeves has accepted manslaughter but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Collin Reeves being checked into police custody following his arrest after he murdered his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple. (SWNS)
Collin Reeves is interviewed after being arrested by police. See SWNS story SWBRverdict. An ex-soldier is facing life in prison after being found guilty of murdering his neighbours with a ceremonial dagger over a parking row. Former commando Collin Reeves, 34, removed the weapon from a frame and went next door. He then stabbed and killed married couple Jennifer, 33, and Stephen Chapple, 36. CCTV showed him scaling his garden fence and entering his neighbour's home and screaming
Collin Reeves during a police interview after his arrest. (SWNS)

Mrs Chapple’s mother, Ann Clayton, said in a victim impact statement: “For a mother to lose a child is something that causes never-ending pain, knowing there will forever be a darkness inside you, a light switched off that can never be replaced.

"This should not have happened, he had no right to do this to Jennifer and Stephen, his depraved, evil actions that night have left a tragic legacy that will remain with us all forever."

She described her daughter as “an exuberant, caring, beautiful light in the world”.

Mr Chapple's sister, Marie, said: "I’ve lost my little brother, the most caring person. The little brother who always wanted to protect his big sister. The little brother who would always make me smile when I needed it most."

In a highly unusual step, after the sentence was passed Reeves’s mother, Lynn, stood up to give her own statement, before she was stopped by the judge.

Detective Inspector Neil Meade, the senior investigating officer, said Stephen and Jennifer Chapple "were doting parents who did nothing to deserve what happened to them".

He added: “The impact their deaths has had on those who loved them is heartbreaking and while the sentence announced today is fully justified, I’m sure it in no way balances out the grief they continue to feel.

“They have shown great courage and dignity throughout our investigation and subsequent criminal proceedings and I hope now these have concluded they can move forward with their lives.”

Reeves, an Afghanistan veteran, used the ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the army to murder the couple.

Collin Reeve (unpixelated) confronting his neighbours in a long running dispute over a parking space. The footage was captured on Jennifer and Stephen Chapple's door bell camera before Reeve killed the couple. See SWNS story SWBRstabbing. The wife of a former soldier who killed a couple next door with a ceremonial dagger claims he had never been the same since returning from Afghanistan. Kayleigh Reeves told a jury her ex-commando husband had suffered with mental health problems since coming home a tour from fighting the Taliban. She had proposed a trial separation just moments before Reeves climbed over the garden fence and murdered Jennifer Chapple, 33, and her husband Stephen, 36, while their two children slept upstairs. The neighbours had been embroiled in a long-running dispute over parking as their two young children slept, a jury was told.
Murder victims Stephen and Jennifer Chapple's door bell camera captured Collin Reeves (unpixelated) before he killed the couple. (SWNS)
The scene in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset where police continue to investigate the into the murder of Stephen and Jenny Chapple in front of their two young children in a suspected dispute over parking, November 24, 2021. See SWNS story SWBRmurder. Police have launched a double murder probe after a man and woman were found dead inside a home. Cops were called at about 9.45pm on sunday night, where the two victims, both aged in their 30s, were discovered with serious injuries. Medics attended but the couple were later both pronounced dead at the scene. Two men, aged 34 and 67, have now been arrested on suspicion of murder and are currently in custody for questioning.
The scene in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset, where Collin Reeves murdered Stephen and Jenny Chapple. (SWNS)

Read more: CCTV shows chilling moment ex-soldier enters garden before killing neighbours

The court heard he stabbed them to death 40 minutes after his wife said she wanted a trial separation from him.

He stabbed Mr Chapple, 36, and Mrs Chapple, 33, six times each in their home on Dragon Rise after a long-running dispute with the couple over 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 ******* die”.

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

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Collin Reeves, 34, with his head in his hands, in the dock at Bristol Crown Court, where it is alleged he fatally attacked his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, who were both in their 30s, at their home, on the evening of November 21, 2021 while their children slept upstairs. Picture date: Wednesday June 8, 2022.
A court artist sketch of Collin Reeves with his head in his hands, in the dock at Bristol Crown Court, where he was found guilty of murdering his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple. (PA)

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 two counts of murder after five hours and 21 minutes of deliberations.

Reeves did not react as the verdicts were read out but his wife Kayley wept.

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, sparking rows over parking spaces.

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 anymore”.

Following the murders, 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.

Floral tributes left near the scene at Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, where a man and a woman died on Sunday. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after Jennifer Chapple, 33, and her husband Stephen Chapple, 36, were both found with serious injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. Picture date: Wednesday November 24, 2021.
Floral tributes left last November near the scene at Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, where Jennifer and Stephen Chapple were murdered by Collin Reeves. (PA)
Floral tributes left near the scene at Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, where a man and a woman died on Sunday. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after Jennifer Chapple, 33, and her husband Stephen Chapple, 36, were both found with serious injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. Picture date: Wednesday November 24, 2021.
Husband and wife Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed to death by army veteran Collin Reeves after a row over parking. (PA)

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.”

In a statement, the Chapples’ loved ones 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.

“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.”

Watch: Army veteran found guilty of murdering couple over parking row

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