Armed cops waited to fill out risk assessment with knifeman on loose

Armed police didn’t respond to parking row stabbing for 20 MINUTES because they needed to carry out a risk assessment: Revelation as ex-Army commando is convicted of murdering his neighbours

  • Collin Reeves found guilty of murders of Jennifer and Stephen Chapple last year
  • Ex-Commando went on stabbing rampage after a bitter row over village parking 
  • Armed cops waited to respond to fatal attack as they completed risk assessment
  • Avon and Somerset Det Insp Neil Meade defended the force’s delayed response 

Armed police officers waited for 20 minutes while a rampaging Afghanistan veteran fatally stabbed his neighbours in a horrifying double murder over a parking row, it was revealed last night.

Ex-Commando Collin Reeves (above) killed Stephen and Jennifer Chapple in a frenzied attack using a ceremonial dagger he had been given on leaving the Royal Engineers

Specially trained units with Avon and Somerset Police waited for around 20 minutes before responding to the fatal stabbing in the leafy village of Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton in Somerset, because a risk assessment needed to be carried out.

Stephen and Jennifer Chapple were stabbed and left slumped in a pool of blood in the living room of their £250,000 home as their children slept upstairs blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding below them.

Afghanistan veteran Collin Reeves and his family lived next door to the Chapples in Dragon Rise in the new-build development, and had a furious bust-up over parking in May 2021, Bristol Crown Court heard.

There had been a number of angry exchanges between them, including an incident in which Reeves called Mrs Chapple a ‘f****** c***’ and a ‘fat b***h’, before the ex-soldier launched his savage attack.

But last night, Detective Inspector Neil Meade defended the force’s decision to delay their response despite the severity of the attack taking place in a rural village.

‘People might say [around 20 minutes is] a long time but obviously we need to risk assess it’, Det Insp Meade explained to the Telegraph.

‘If someone’s phoned up saying they just stabbed somebody obviously our primary aim is to preserve life. But we’ve also got to risk assess it and see what threat there is to officers that are attending and that’s why the armed officers attended in the first instance’, he added.

Jennifer and Stephen Chapple (above) were each stabbed six times while their children lay asleep upstairs in their Norton Fitzwarren home

Reeves is an ex-commando who served in Afghanistan. He stabbed the Chapples to death using his ceremonial dagger

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

In new footage released by Avon and Somerset Police, Reeves appeared as cool as ice when cops asked him to ‘hold still’

Data released in May 2022 revealed police officers around the UK are taking three minutes longer on average to attend a serious crime than six years ago

Data released in May showed police officers are now 28% slower to attend serious crime compared to six years ago. The average wait time has steadily grown from six and a half minutes in 2011 to more than 12 minutes in 2018.

Although there is no hardline guidance dictating response times for offices to arrive at the scene of a crime, some forces are setting their own targets of arriving within 15 minutes for serious emergencies. 

Bristol Crown Court heard how Reeves and his wife had initially been friendly with their neighbours, but their relationship soured last May 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.

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***’.

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.

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.

Reeves had claimed he suffered an abnormality of mental functioning when he killed the Chapples.

The 35-year-old former Royal Engineer used a ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the Army to brutally stab the married couple to death. 

He denied their murder but admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However, the jury at Bristol Crown Court reached a unanimous verdict this afternoon after five hours and 21 minutes of deliberations and found him guilty on both counts.

Reeves said he ‘drank heavily and often’ after his experiences in the military and had struck his wife during arguments over ‘little minor things’.

He left the Army in 2017 after 15-years and contemplated suicide as he sank into depression and loneliness working as a lorry driver.

When questioned by police during a three-hour police interview, Reeves responded ‘no comment’

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***’

Reeves, pictured at his first court appearance at Taunton Magistrates’ Court, called both the police and his mother and admitted to stabbing the couple

Jurors were asked to decide whether Reeves’ depression – which was diagnosed as ‘moderate’ by one psychiatrist and ‘mild’ by another – amounted to an ‘abnormality of mental functioning’ in law.  Reeves gave no reaction as the verdict was read out. 

He had 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.

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’.

Giving evidence earlier this week, Reeves said he remembered little about what happened other than a bright light of the Chapples’ security camera coming on when he climbed into their garden.

He said: ‘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.’

Father-of-two Reeves said he also recalled the handle on his neighbours’ back door being pressed down, telling the court: ‘I had a feeling it was me or them.

In a statement, the Chapples’ loved ones said: ‘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.’

They added: ‘We will now focus on Jennifer and Stephen’s beautiful boys, helping them to live the life that Jennifer and Stephen would have wished for them.’

Detective Inspector Neil Meade, of our Major Crime Investigation Team, added: ‘There are simply no words to fully describe the horrors Collin Reeves committed.

‘My heart and all those at Avon and Somerset Police goes out to Jennifer and Stephen’s families and in particular, their two boys.

‘For reasons only Reeves knows, he robbed them of their parents, destroying the lives they knew in a matter of minutes. His actions are beyond comprehension.’

DI Meade added: ‘Jennifer’s and Stephen’s families have shown incredible strength during the past few months.

‘Specialists family liaison officers have supported them throughout what has undoubtedly been a distressing ordeal and I’d like to thank them for the support they have given our investigation.

‘I hope now the trial has concluded and Reeves has been brought to justice they will be able to find some form of closure.’

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