Military told to stop giving troops knives after double murder tragedy
Coroner demands the British Army stop handing out ceremonial daggers to retired servicemen – after ex-commando used one to murder married couple over parking row
- Ex-soldier Collin Reeves stabbed his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple
- He used a ceremonial dagger he received upon leaving the army to kill them
- A top coroner has called on the MoD to stop giving weapons to retiring troops
A top coroner has called on British military chiefs to stop giving retiring veterans ceremonial daggers after an ex-Army commando used one to kill his neighbours.
Collin Reeves murdered teacher Stephen Chapple, 36, and his wife Jennifer, 33, at their home in Taunton, Somerset, while their children slept upstairs.
Afghanistan veteran Reeves had been given the ceremonial dagger four years before, as a gift when he left the Royal Engineers in 2017. He jailed last year for a minimum of 38 years for the double killings.
Now Somerset senior coroner, Samantha Marsh has written to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Ministry of Defence and urged them to stop giving retiring troops weapons.
She wrote: ‘The dagger was not a blunt replica, it was a fully functional weapon capable of causing significant harm, injury and sadly in the Chapples’ case, death.
Former soldier Collin Reeves, 34, is accused of using a ceremonial dagger he received upon leaving the army to murder his neighbours
Jennifer and Stephen Chapple were each stabbed six times by Reeves during a frenzied attack in 2021 while their two boys slept upstairs
He stabbed both six times in a frenzied minute-long attack using the ceremonial dagger (similar to the one pictured) he had been given when he left the army in 2017
‘Please reconsider the appropriateness of providing anyone leaving the British Army, regardless of rank or status, with what is (to all intents and purposes) a deadly weapon.
READ MORE: Chilling moment ex-army commando coolly allows himself to be handcuffed after murdering his neighbours while their children slept after long-running feud over parking space
‘Such presentation/gifting has essentially put a deadly weapon in the community (where I understand it sadly remains, having never been recovered as it was removed from the scene prior to police attendance) and I am not persuaded that this is appropriate.’
Reeves forced his way into the couple’s home in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, on the evening of November 21, 2021.
He stabbed both the Chapples six times in a frenzied minute-long attack, before calling the police and telling them what he had done.
When officers arrived at the scene, the couple’s children were still asleep upstairs.
Reeves had been involved in a long-running dispute with the couple over designated parking on the new-build housing development
He and his wife had initially been friendly with their neighbours, but their relationship soured in May 2021 after Mrs Chapple passed her driving test and bought a car.
Their part of the new-build estate they lived on only had parking for one car per household and Mr Chapple, 36, already used their designated space for his vehicle.
Reeves and his wife (pictured right) had initially been friendly with their neighbours, but their relationship soured last May after Mrs Chapple passed her driving test and bought a car
Instead, Mrs Chapple parked her small sky-blue car on the road but in doing so slightly blocked the space used by Reeves, whose car had already been damaged by Mr Chapple reversing.
What started as a trivial argument became more and more toxic as the months went by.
Mrs Chapple had been left intimidated when Reeves showed up at the garden centre cafe where she worked and stared at her, while she had numerous clashes with his wife.
One such exchange between both women happened on November 11, ten days before the killings, and the defendant confronted his neighbour later that evening in a foul-mouthed rant captured on a Ring doorbell camera.
He was heard accusing Mrs Chapple of ‘f***ing gobbing off you cheeky little b****.
The victim replied ‘she’s the one who started it, just f*** off’ to which he responded ‘what’s that you f****** c***, you fat b****, you f****** … f****** c***’.
Reeves was taken into custody following the killings, which came after a long and bitter row about car-parking space during which he called Mrs Chapple a ‘f****** f****** c***’
CCTV captured on November 11, 2021, showing Reeves and Mrs Chapple in a foul mouthed row outside their homes ten days before she was killed
Collin Reeves is on trial at Bristol Crown Court accused of the murder of his neighbours Stephen and Jennifer Chapple in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, on the evening of November 21, 2021
On the night of the double murder, Reeves had returned home after taking his children to the Christmas lights switch-on in Taunton and had just put them to bed when his wife asked for a two-week trial separation.
READ MORE: Young mother stabbed to death by ex-soldier living next door ‘knew’ he wanted to kill her in row over parking, court hears
He sat for a while on the stairs crying but then went down and took the back off a picture frame where he kept his ceremonial dagger along with treasured images of his time in the military.
Clutching the knife, he went outside after 9pm and used a compost bin to climb over the nearly 6ft-high fence into his neighbours’ back garden.
Footage from a security camera on the Chapples’ home showed him drop down and immediately duck below a window so he could not be seen from those inside the property.
He entered the house through the back door leading to the living room, stabbing teacher Mr Chapple first, who is believed to have gone to investigate who was outside, before attacking Mrs Chapple as she sat on the sofa.
The couple’s two sons were asleep upstairs at the time but did not wake up and were unharmed.
The jury was played a clip in which Reeves is heard shouting ‘die you f****** die’ as Mrs Chapple screams.
Instead, Mrs Chapple parked her small sky-blue car on the road but in doing so slightly blocked the space used by Reeves, whose car had already been damaged by Mr Chapple reversing
What started as a trivial argument became more and more toxic as the months went by
He climbed back over the fence, returned home and rang police, telling them: ‘I went round with a knife, I’ve stabbed both of them.’
His parents, Brian and Lynn Reeves, who had been called by the defendant’s wife, arrived soon afterwards and found him pale and in shock.
In the 999 call to police he can be heard in the background justifying the killings to his mother by saying ‘I had to stop them tormenting Kayley’.
During his trial, Reeves admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming he was suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning, but denies murder.
In her letter, Mrs Marsh detailed how the Chapples came to be murdered at their home in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, Somerset, in November 2021.
‘They became involved in a parking dispute with their neighbour,’ she wrote. ‘It would appear that [he] took umbrage at Jennifer, in particular, parking her vehicle in a particular location and manner within the development.
‘She was perfectly legally entitled to park how and where she did; [he] simply didn’t like it and took petty action of moving his bins to block spaces and/or parking his own vehicle in an inconsiderate manner to cause a nuisance.
When questioned by police during a three-hour police interview, Reeves responded ‘no comment’
In new footage released by Avon and Somerset Police, Reeves appeared as cool as ice when cops asked him to ‘hold still’
‘There were some instances of police involvement, but this was largely either deemed to be a civil matter or verbal harassment by [Reeves] who embarked on a course of conduct designed to intimidate or frighten Mr, but more particularly Mrs Chapple.’
A report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct Report concluded that the police had acted appropriately and that there had been no indication that physical violence was even ‘a remotely foreseeable possibility’.
However, Mrs Marsh concluded that she should write a Prevention of Future Deaths Report to the government.
‘During the course of the investigation my inquiries revealed matters giving rise to concern,’ she wrote. ‘In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.’
Mrs Marsh wrote that during Reeves’ trial evidence had been heard suggesting he was suffering from poor mental health ‘because of combat and tours of war-torn countries’.
She wrote: ‘This is not an uncommon feature of those serving in and/or leaving the Army and adds further weight to my concerns around the appropriateness of such items (whether ceremonial or not) being issued in the first place, but secondly being issued to those who may have a propensity for mental health issues.
‘In my opinion urgent action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you have the power to take such action.’
She added that Mr Wallace and the MoD are under a duty to respond to her report – which was also sent to the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police – by April 25.
Source: Read Full Article