Wed, 8 June 2022, 3:14 pm
A former soldier stabbed a young married couple to death in their home following a row over a parking space, a court has heard.
Collin Reeves is accused of murdering his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, on the evening of 21 November last year.
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, Bristol Crown Court heard.
The 34-year-old is accused of stabbing the couple while their children slept upstairs using the ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the army.
On the night of the killing, Reeves climbed the fence separating his garden from the victims’, and entered via the back door.
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.
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 an expletive-laden clip of Reeves approaching Mrs Chapple outside her house on 11 November following an earlier exchange between the victim and Reeves’ wife Kayley Reeves, with whom he was having marital issues.
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 that led to him leaving the house.
Mrs Reeves called her mother and father-in-law when she heard screaming and 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.”
The trial, which is expected to last for eight days, continues.