Collin Reeves: Ex-soldier who fatally stabbed neighbours tells court he cannot remember attack in Somerset village

·3-min read

A former soldier has told court that he cannot remember stabbing his neighbours to death while their children slept upstairs, despite admitting to the fatal incident.

Collin Reeves, 35, said he stabbed Jennifer and Stephen Chapple on 21 November last year in the Somerset village of Norton Fitzwarren, just outside Taunton, but denies murder, instead pleading guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Reeves, who has served in Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers, was said to have had a good relationship with his neighbours, before falling out over a parking dispute in May 2021.

Speaking at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, Reeves said he had little memory of what happened, but did remember sitting on the stairs crying after speaking to his wife, who had told him around 40 minutes before the attack that she wanted a trial separation.

Reeves added he remembers a "white light", which he believes was the victims' security light he saw when he climbed into their back garden.

Jo Martin QC, for Reeves, asked: "Do you have any memory of what you were thinking about when you were sitting on the stairs?"

Reeves replied: "Just the fear of losing everything, I just felt 'like we are going to split up', that was it, (my wife) was talking about me going to stay with my parents."

He added he had no memory of taking his ceremonial dagger (the weapon he used, which he was given when he left the armed forces) from its usual place in a picture frame.

The defendant has also previously spoken of his fear of being under surveillance and CCTV, and said the next thing he remembers trying to get down on his front.

"I felt as though I had been seen or compromised, white light was a trigger when I was a soldier, when a light goes on or somebody sets off a flare, when that white light goes up something is going to happen," Reeves said.

Asked what else he remembered, he replied: "I remember the handle of the (Chapples') back door, the handle coming down."

"I had a feeling like it was me or them.

"I know it was wrong, I should never have been there."

The next thing Reeves recounts is being back in his own home and hearing his wife screaming.

Later, while under cross-examination from Adam Feest QC, he admitted that he must have had memory of the event, given that he made the 999 call minutes later saying: "I went round with a knife, I've stabbed both of them" - audio of which was played in court.

At the police station, he said he was "Lance Corporal Reeves, sir" followed by giving his military service number. Reeves told a custody sergeant "I was just doing my job" and "I was on an operation", before agreeing to speak to a mental health professional.

During his evidence, he said: "I feel ashamed, disgusted with myself for what I've done, for taking Stephen and Jennifer's life while their children were in bed, causing pain and suffering to their families and friends, knowing their two boys were in bed when it happened, why they can never see their mum and dad again because of me," he said.

"I've always felt ashamed to talk to anyone about my feelings or thoughts because I always thought it was a sign of weakness, but now I am more ashamed for not talking or seeking help, because of what I have done."

The trial continues.

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