Ex-soldier jailed for life for murdering neighbours in Somerset after parking row

  • Watch Rob Murphy's report

An Afghanistan veteran who murdered his neighbours after a parking row has been sentenced to life in prison.

Collin Reeves stabbed married couple Stephen and Jennifer Chapple six times each at their house in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, on the evening of November 21 last year.

The 35-year-old former Royal Engineer used a ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the army to kill the couple.

Reeves was found guilty of murder following a trial at Bristol Crown Court and has today (21 June) been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 38 years.

Reeves called the police himself just minutes after the killings to confess to what he had done, but later denied murder, claiming diminished responsibility.

  • Listen to 999 call Reeves made after the murders

He said he had little memory of the incident but recalled sitting on the stairs in tears after the conversation with his wife.

He claimed he did not remember taking his dagger out of the picture frame in which it was usually displayed.

At the police station he appeared confused and gave his name as “Lance Corporal Reeves, sir” and his service number.

Two forensic psychiatrists concluded Reeves was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, but diagnosed him with moderate and mild depression respectively.

Collin Reeves murdered his neighbours with a ceremonial dagger he was given when he left the army Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A jury at Bristol Crown 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.

The court also heard Reeves had been having trouble in his own marriage, and less than an hour before he stabbed the Chapples his wife had asked for a trial separation.

On the night of the murders, Reeves was caught on a security camera climbing the fence separating his garden from the victims' garden, and entering through the back door.

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 any more".

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Mr Justice Garnham said: "These murders took place at night and in the victims’ home where they were entitled to feel safe and secure.

"The impact on the two children of the killing of both their parents is obvious and was brought to life by the victim personal statements we have heard.

"These dreadful attacks were not long planned or premeditated. But they were notentirely spontaneous either."

The judge went on to say Reeves' remorse, moderate depression, mostly-exemplary army service and the fact he called the police were mitigating factors, but he said the aggravating features"far outweigh the mitigating features".

He added: "Taking all those matters into account, the shortest minimum term I can impose consistent with my public duty is one of 38 years."

Speaking after he was sentenced, the senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Neil Meade said Jennifer and Stephen 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.”