A former soldier stabbed a couple to death as their children slept upstairs using a ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the Army, a court has heard.
Collin Reeves attacked Stephen and Jennifer Chapple at their home in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, on the evening of November 21 2021.
He has admitted manslaughter but denies murder and a trial began at Bristol Crown Court today (8 June).
The jury heard 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.
On the night of the killing, the 35-year-old defendant climbed the fence separating his garden from the victims’, and went into their house via the back door, the jury was told.
The defendant then used a dagger to stab Jennifer and Stephen multiple times in a frenzied minute-long attack in the living room, the court heard.
The speed and nature of the attack was such that Jennifer Chapple, stabbed six times to her upper chest and shoulder, did not have the chance to get up from the sofa, prosecutor Adam Feest QC said.
Her husband Stephen was attacked when standing up near to the rear door and stabbed again as he moved a short distance away before falling to the floor, jurors were told.
Like his wife, he also sustained 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 shown a clip from the Chapples’ back door camera of Reeves climbing the 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”.
Many of the victims’ family members seated in the public gallery chose to leave court before the footage was played.
Reeves claims he was suffering an “abnormality of mental functioning” and jurors were told it will be their job to decide whether this is true.
After the killings, Reeves climbed back over the fence and telephoned the police to tell them he had stabbed his neighbours, the court heard.
He told the operator that he had stabbed his neighbours “a couple of times” each and explained that he went round there with a knife and stabbed them.
When asked what kind of knife he used, he said it was a dagger which was now in his house, the court heard. The conversation was then interrupted by the defendant’s father telling him to put the telephone down, jurors were told.
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 b****”.
The victim replied: “she’s the one who started it, just f*** off” to which he responds “what’s that you f****** c***, you fat b****, 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.
As well as the dispute over parking, on the evening of the killings, Mrs Reeves had told her husband that she wanted to have a trial separation, the court heard.
A recording device in their bedroom captured Mrs Reeves apparently saying “There’s only so many years I can take your s***,” the jury heard.
Mrs Reeves told police that in response he went downstairs, then came back upstairs, before descending again and then going outside, jurors were told.
“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, the court heard.
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.