Collin Reeves: Ex-soldier who stabbed neighbors ‘wasn’t mentally ill’

Ex-commando who stabbed neighbors'wasn't mentally ill at the time'

Collin Reeves denies two counts of murder in connection with the murders of Jennifer and Stephen Chapple (Images: Rex/PA/SWNS)

An ex-army commando who stabbed his married neighbors while their children slept upstairs was not mentally ill at the time, two psychiatrists said.

Collin Reeves, 35, stands trial at Bristol Crown Court charged with two counts of murder after killing Jennifer and Stephen Chapple at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton in Somerset on November 21.

Reeves and his family lived next door to the Chapples in Dragon Rise in the new development and had had a parking dispute with them in May 2021.

There had been a number of angry arguments between them, including an incident where Reeves called Mrs Chapple a “F****** c***” and a “fat bitch”.

Reeves accepts that he stabbed Mr and Mrs Chapple but denies murder and has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

The Afghan veteran, who served in the Royal Engineers and completed grueling commando training, used the ceremonial dagger he was given when he left the army.

The jury has heard he was having troubles in his own marriage and had asked his wife Kayley for a trial separation about 40 minutes before the attack.

After the murders, Reeves was recorded in the background of the 999 call telling someone believed to be his mother, Lynn, “I couldn’t torment her (or her) Kayley anymore.”

Collin Reeves, 34, a former Royal Command Engineer who has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, a couple who were killed at their home in the village of Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, when their children were born after sleeping upstairs in what appears to be a longstanding parking dispute with neighbors. Collin Reeves, defendant in parking disputes, UK – November 24, 2021 Rex Features Ltd. claims no copyright or license to the attached image. Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (12616038a)

Reeves is a former Commando Royal Engineer (Image: Rex/Shutterstock)

Undated handout photo issued by Avon and Somerset Police of Jennifer and Stephen Chapple, as ex-command Collin Reeves stands trial at Bristol Crown Court, where he charged the murder of Jennifer Chapple, 33, and her teacher, 36 -Husband Stephen denies November 21 last year. Issue date: Friday June 10, 2022. PA Photo. Reeves claims he suffered from a mental abnormality at the time of the murders and admitted to the manslaughter on the grounds of diminished criminal responsibility. See PA story COURTS Norton Fitzwarren. Photo credit should read: Sam Malone/Avon and Somerset Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only for the simultaneous depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Jennifer and Stephen Chapple (Image: PA)

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lucy Bacon, who examined Reeves on behalf of the defense team, concluded that he had been suffering from moderate depression at the time.

She said Reeves had no symptoms consistent with acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The defendant reported being anxious in crowds but not “overly alert” – a symptom of PTSD common in soldiers who feel a constant sense of threat.

Reeves said her life “felt dark the whole time,” the witness said.

Collin Reeves is taken into custody after his arrest. An ex-soldier has told a jury he was

Reeves is taken into custody following his arrest (Image: Avon & Somerset Police/SWNS)

dr Bacon said: “To me that’s a pretty powerful description of depression, there’s no brightness, no joy or happiness, things are pretty miserable.”

She diagnosed his depression as moderate because he was still able to function in some aspects of his life, such as going to work or running, and worried about providing for his family.

dr Bacon said: “I would definitely say that depression is a relevant factor in Mr Reeves’ actions; I wouldn’t say depression made him do what he did, but I think if you look at the whole thing, depression played a part in it.”

She added, “From my perspective, I don’t think it meets the diminished responsibility criteria, but that’s my perspective and that’s a jury decision.”

Court artist sketch of Elizabeth Cook of Collin Reeves, 34, in the dock at Bristol Crown Court as Prosecutor Adam Feest QC lays out his case alleging he had neighbors Stephen and Jennifer Chapple, both in their 30s, fatally assaulted at their home on the evening of November 21, 2021 while their children were sleeping upstairs. Picture date: Wednesday June 8, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS Norton Fitzwarren. Photo credit should read: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Court artist sketch of Reeves in Bristol Crown Court dock (Image: PA)

At the police station, Reeves gave his name as “Lance Corporal Collin Reeves” and his duty number, appearing confused as to why he was there.

dr Bacon said it appeared the defendant had “fallen behind” on his education.

“He spent many years as a soldier and went back to answering questions with his service number, that sort of thing,” she said.

“I think it was the shock of killing the Chapples.”

dr Bacon added, “It is possible that during the killings he had already regressed somewhat and gone into army mode.”

She said that during her interview with Reeves, he said “he didn’t feel that his deep feelings for the neighbors explained the fact that he killed them”.

Collin Reeves' wife Kayley arrives at Bristol Crown Court. Collin Reeves has pleaded guilty to the Chapples' manslaughter and denied the murder on grounds of diminished responsibility. Bristol. 09 June 2022. See SWNS story SWBRstabbing. The wife of a former soldier who killed a couple next door with a ceremonial dagger claims he has never been the same since returning from Afghanistan. Kayleigh Reeves told a jury her ex-commando husband had suffered from mental health problems since he returned home from a tour fighting the Taliban. She had proposed a trial separation just before Reeves climbed the garden fence and murdered Jennifer Chapple, 33, and her husband Stephen, 36, while their two children slept upstairs. The neighbors were locked in a long-running dispute over parking when their two young children slept, a jury has been told.

Reeves’ wife Kayley arrives at Bristol Crown Court (Image: Tom Wren SWNS)

dr John Sandford, a forensic psychiatrist for the prosecution, said that Reeves’ memory loss from the murders was consistent with “dissociative amnesia” and did not contribute to the incident.

He said it is common in domestic violence homicides for the perpetrator to call the police immediately afterwards but soon lose all memories of the incident.

“This has nothing to do with depression — it’s a reaction to a traumatic act, something that’s usually a reaction to something you did rather than something done to you,” said Dr. Sandford.

The witness diagnosed Reeves with mild depression, adding that this is a normal reaction for someone unhappy in their job and in their marriage.

dr Sandford said Reeves described a pattern of “subtle intimidation and social cruelty” by Ms. Chapple toward his wife.

He said that in his opinion “the main factor behind the commission of this offense is the dispute between the two families”.

The process, which should be completed by the end of the week, continues.

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Justin Scacco

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