Man guilty of murdering next-door neighbours
A 35-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering his next-door neighbours following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Collin Reeves admitted the manslaughters of Jennifer and Stephen Chapple in Norton Fitzwarren on 21 November last year but denied murdering them, claiming he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.
However, a jury rejected his defence and accepted the prosecution’s case his actions were deliberate.
He faces two mandatory life sentences and will learn the minimum term he will serve in prison before being considered for parole when he is sentenced on Tuesday 21 June.
During the trial, jurors were told Reeves had been in dispute with Jennifer and Stephen over parking spaces outside their two homes.
They were shown doorbell footage from 10 days before Reeves killed them in which he repeatedly swore at Jennifer, leading her to voice concerns about his conduct to friends on social media.
The confrontation followed an incident weeks earlier in which Reeves had sat staring at Jennifer at her place of work, deliberately intimidating her.
The panel also heard Reeves’ wife told police moments before her husband climbed over their back garden fence and entered their neighbours’ home, she had told him she wanted a trial separation.
Reeves used a commemorative dagger, given to him after he left the Army, to stab Jennifer and Stephen multiple times in their living room. He then climbed back over the fence and called police, describing to a call handler what he had done.
Jennifer and Stephen’s children were asleep upstairs as their parents were attacked.
Reeves was arrested by officers from his house shortly afterwards and despite refusing to answer any questions in interview, was charged with two counts of murder three days later.
A statement from Jennifer and Stephen’s family was read outside court following the trial’s conclusion.
It read: “No verdict will bring back our beautiful Jennifer and Stephen. If anything, these past ten days have prolonged us finding out how Jennifer and Stephen spent their final moments.
“The support of our friends and family has been what has got us through the past seven months. The support we have received from Jennifer and Stephen’s friends shows how loved they both were.
“We now ask that we are left to process this in our own way, to be able to grieve properly and move forward best we can.
“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.”
Detective Inspector Neil Meade, of our Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “There are simply no words to fully describe the horrors Collin Reeves committed.
“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.”
DI Meade added: “Jennifer’s and Stephen’s families have shown incredible strength during the past few months.
“Specialists family liaison officers have supported them throughout what has undoubtedly been a distressing ordeal and I’d like to thank them for the support they have given our investigation.
“I hope now the trial has concluded and Reeves has been brought to justice they will be able to find some form of closure.”