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An ex-commando who claimed he knifed his neighbours to death because their security light “triggered” warzone flashbacks was “never exposed to frontline action”, the investigating officer has revealed.

Collin Reeves, 34, is facing an automatic life sentence after a jury found him guilty of murdering Jennifer and Stephen Chapple with a ceremonial dagger in November last year [2021].

Reeves claimed he killed Jennifer and Stephen Chapple because their security light “triggered” warzone flashbacks.

He scaled the garden fence and stabbed the couple to death after a long-running row over a parking spot.

But he blamed it on PTSD from his time in the Afghanistan war and even told arresting officers: “I was just doing my job, it was an operation.”

Collin Reeves was convicted of double murder
Reeves served in Afghanistan ( REX/Shutterstock)

Reeves denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, saying he was suffering an abnormality of mental functioning at the time.

But after a jury at Bristol Crown Court found him guilty of murder, investigating officer Detective Inspector Neil Meade branded him a “trained killer” who had exploded in a “senseless act” of violence.

He said that the 34-year-old dad was “never exposed to frontline action” during the war.

Jennifer and her husband suffered multiple stab wounds

“He has given his reasons why he did it but on a personal level I don’t buy his argument,” the detective said.

He added: “He saw service in several places around the world including at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. There was evidence to suggest that Reeve’s character changed once he came back from Afghanistan.

“But there was nothing we’ve found in his military records to suggest that the actions he undertook in November 2021 were anything but out of the ordinary.

Stephen was watching TV with his wife when Reeves entered their home ( REX/Shutterstock)

“His commanding officers were complimentary about his time in Afghanistan and within the army in general.

“When he was in Afghanistan he wasn’t exposed to any frontline action. His duties included working in the hospital where he would have seen injured comrades come back.

“In fact, one of his troop commanders was killed while he was working in the hospital in Afghanistan but there’s no direct evidence there was any frontline experience or action in the warzone.”

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He is due back in court on Tuesday when he is facing an automatic life sentence.

His victims’ family said in a statement: “No verdict will bring back our beautiful Jennifer and Stephen.

“If anything, these past 10 days have prolonged us finding out how Jennifer and Stephen spent their final moments.”

Reeves and his family lived next door to the Chapples in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, in the new-build development and had fallen out over parking in May 2021.

Reeves weaps in his police interview ( Police handout)

There had been a number of angry exchanges between them, including an incident in which Reeves called Mrs Chapple a “c**” and a “fat b****”.

The Afghanistan veteran, who served with the Royal Engineers and completed the gruelling commando training, used the ceremonial dagger he had been given when he left the Army.

He carried out the frenzied knife attack in the couple’s living room as their two young children, aged five and six, slept upstairs.

Reeves caught on CCTV entering and leaving the Chapple home ( Avon and Somerset Police / SWNS)

The jury heard that he had been having trouble in his own marriage, and around 40 minutes before the attack his wife, Kayley, had asked for a trial separation.

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

After Friday’s verdict, the family of Mr and Mrs Chapple said in a statement: “No verdict will bring back our beautiful Jennifer and Stephen.

Reeves (unpixelated) confronting his neighbours in a long running dispute over a parking space ( Avon and Somerset Police / SWNS)

“If anything, these past 10 days have prolonged us finding out how Jennifer and Stephen spent their final moments.”

Det Insp Mead said: “It was a totally senseless act on what was on the face of it a minor dispute between two families.

“It’s quite a common occurrence on estates such as theirs where parking is a premium and led to the deaths of two innocent victims.

The scene ( Tom Wren / SWNS)

“I don’t want to have a go at planners but nowadays with land at a premium and families generally having two cars this might be an issue – but non-one could have foreseen what happened on that tragic day.

“After coming out of the Army it was well known in the local community that Reeves had done a Commando course in 2010 and was a trained killer.

“As an ex-military man his wife had warned neighbours against messing with him because of his background.”

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

She said Reeves did not have symptoms consistent with acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The defendant reported being anxious in crowds, but was not “hyper vigilant”, a symptom of PTSD often seen in soldiers where they feel a constant sense of threat.

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