Ex-soldier who stabbed neighbours to death was never the same after Afghanistan, ex-wife tells trial


Ex-soldier who stabbed neighbours to death with ceremonial dagger in long-running parking row was never the same after returning from Afghanistan, ex-wife tells murder trial

  • Collin Reeves has admitted killing Stephen and Jennifer Chapple at their home
  • The former commando stabbed the married pair in a long-running parking row
  • The 35-year-old denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility
  • His ex-wife told police he hadn’t been the same since returning from Afghanistan
  • Kayley Reeves said she’d asked him for a trial separation the night of the killings

The wife of a former commando who stabbed his neighbours to death over a parking row told how her husband had battled mental health problems since leaving Afghanistan.

Kayley Reeves told detectives that her partner of 14-years, Collin Reeves, had suffered since returning from the war torn country, where he served as a driver with the Royal Engineers in 2009.

She told officers ‘his head’s not in the right place’ during an interview with officers investigating the double murder of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple.

Mr Reeves, 35, stabbed them both to death at their home in Taunton, Somerset, on November 21 last year – using a ceremonial dagger he was given upon leaving the army in 2017.

He denies murder at Bristol Crown Court but has admitted the couple’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Collin Reeves, pictured here with his ex-wife Kayley Reeves, has admitted killing his neighbours in a parking row

Collin Reeves, pictured here with his ex-wife Kayley Reeves, has admitted killing his neighbours in a parking row

The jury were today played a recording of the interview Mrs Reeves gave to Avon and Somerset Police following the killing.

She told officers that Reeves struggled around the time of Remembrance Sunday because of his time in the army.

She said: ‘He hasn’t been the same since he came back from Afghan. About two or three weeks ago we had a heart to heart and his head’s not in the right place. He has thoughts about if he wasn’t here I would be better off. He needs help.’

When pressed by the officers about his mental torment she added: ‘He just bottles it up, never talks about his feelings.’

Reeves appeared to be visibly upset during his wife’s video testimony and wiped a tear away from his eye before slumping forward with his head in his hands.

Kayley Reeves, pictured here arriving at Bristol Crown Court today, said her husband was not the same man after he returned from Afghanistan

Kayley Reeves, pictured here arriving at Bristol Crown Court today, said her husband was not the same man after he returned from Afghanistan

Mrs Reeves told the officers that on the evening of the murders she had asked her husband for a trial separation for two weeks because their relationship was under strain.

Recalling what happened next she said: ‘He was downstairs for a while and I was upstairs watching telly.

‘It must’ve been a quarter to nine I heard screaming so I went downstairs, went in the front room, I couldn’t see Collin.

‘But I’d noticed his army picture was on the front room floor. He’d taken his dagger out.’

Reeves kept the ceremonial dagger in a glass picture frame along with images of him during his military service.

His wife told the officers she called her mother-in-law, Lynn Reeves, and told her ‘I think Collin’s done something stupid’

She continued: ‘As I got off the phone to Lynn, I’ve seen Collin and he told me to phone the police.

‘He took our house phone and went in the front room and closed the door and phoned the police.

‘So I phoned Lynn again and told her to come round. I said “I think he’s gone next door and stabbed them” so I was on the phone to her and then she (and husband Brian) arrived and they went into the front room with Collin.

The ex-soldier has admitted killing Stephen and Jennifer Chapple (pictured) by stabbing them with a ceremonial dagger, but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility

The ex-soldier has admitted killing Stephen and Jennifer Chapple (pictured) by stabbing them with a ceremonial dagger, but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility

‘I think I went upstairs because my kids woke up and then Lynn phoned the police again. The police took ages to come . And when they did come they took Collin away.

‘I had armed police in my house checking it. And then my kids went to their auntie’s because I phoned her to come and collect the girls. So we walked down and dropped the kids off and then I went back to the house and was told to pack a bag.’

Mrs Reeves said that initially she and her husband had been friends with Stephen and Jennifer Chapple. However, their relationship soured due to constant clashes over parking On their new-build estate.

Mrs Chapple, 33, had learnt to drive and had got a new car last year.

Her husband parked his car in their designated space so she had to leave hers on the road, which partially blocked Reeves’ vehicle.

Mrs Reeves told officers of a run-in her husband had with Mrs Chapple. She said : ‘It was bugging him for months, he just let it go by. But it got to the point where here he was finding it difficult to get in and out of his allocated parked space.

‘So he just told them one day “look, you can’t park there, you’re making it difficult for me.” Her husband had already smashed into Collins car.’

Mrs Reeve said she too had had problems with Mrs Chapple following the rows over parking.

She said her next-door neighbour would walk past her window ‘sniggering at me’ adding: ‘If I was in my kitchen she’d walk past and she’d always laugh at me, stick her fingers up at the camera. I could never go and do the school run without her giving me dirty looks.’

Mrs Reeves later gave evidence in person via a video link from an office in the court building, preferring to avoid being in the courtroom itself.

Cross-examined by Jo Martin QC, defending, Mrs Reeves said that before the murders, her husband, who worked as a lorry driver, had been having dark thoughts while alone in his cab all day.

A court sketch of Colling Reeves in the dock at Bristol Crown Court. Mr Reeves had been working as a lorry driver at the time of the killings, something he had been struggling with, his ex-wife said

A court sketch of Colling Reeves in the dock at Bristol Crown Court. Mr Reeves had been working as a lorry driver at the time of the killings, something he had been struggling with, his ex-wife said 

She said: ‘He told me he was struggling because he was on his own in the lorry having thoughts about leaving us and that we’d be better off without him, which isn’t the case.’

She said that if he continued having these feelings for two more weeks she’d plan to take him to the doctors but said ‘it was too late.’

Mrs Reeves said he did not want to go and see a doctor adding: ‘He didnt want to take any medication because he thought he wouldn’t be able to drive and our bills wouldn’t get paid.’

Reeves stabbed Mr and Mrs Chapple after climbing over their fence and entering the back door to their house.

The couple were in the living room. Both were stabbed six times each and left in a pool of blood on the floor after Reeves screamed ‘die f*****s, die’

The hearing continues

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