A former soldier, who killed his neighbours’ neighbors with a commando dagger after a dispute over parking, has been told that he will serve a minimum of 38 years in prison before being considered for parole.
Colin Reeves made a “deliberate and brutal” attack on Jennifer and Stephen Chappelle at their home in the Somerset village of Norton Fitzwarren, while their two children slept upstairs, after his wife told him he wanted a trial separation.
Sentencing 35-year-old Reeves to two life sentences at Bristol Crown Court, the judge, Mr Justice Garnham, said the killings occurred after a “minor tussle” over parking and “tore the hearts of two perfectly normal, decent families”. .
He said that Reeves “invaded” Chappelle’s home and that the attacks were “deliberate and brutal”, adding: “You are gone [the Chapples] There was blood on the floor, and their two children were sleeping upstairs all the time.
“Your murderous behavior left him orphaned. That night his parents put him to bed and they would never see him again. The damage you have caused to those two innocent children cannot be counted.
Garnham said Reeves had done a great deal of damage to her own daughters, who would now grow up without their father. He said he admitted Reeves had moderate depression, but added: “You were of good mind and you take full responsibility.”
Reeves stabbed Jennifer Chappelle, a 33-year-old cafe worker, and Stephen Chappelle, a 36-year-old teacher, six times as they were presented when they left the military.
In emotional victim statements, family members of Chappelles described their anguish and the pain of the children being left without parents.
Stephen’s sister, Mary Chappell, said: “Two precious boys are left without parents at such a young age. I spend my days trying to keep their memories alive so that they never forget them, never forget how much they were loved. ,
She said that she was balancing her career with being a single parent to the boys. “I feel guilty every day for what I do to them that they should have done to their parents,” she said.
Jennifer’s mother Ann Clayton said she felt like she was “living in a horror movie that is on an infinite loop”.
She continued: “To know that your grandchildren are now growing up without the two most important people in your life creates anger and rage like fire. Jennifer lived for her children. She would have loved them for their entire existence.” They’ll never know what it’s like to hug her, hug her, kiss her at bedtime again.
“They had no right to do this to Jennifer and Stephen. Their corrupt actions that night left a sad legacy that will stay with us forever. We have received the final sentence of life imprisonment.”
Jennifer’s sister Rhonda Godley said Chappelle was a wonderful parent. “They should still care here [the children]Putting them to bed at night, reading bedtime stories and calming their little mind of any worries. ,
She said that they told the children what had happened three days after the murder and that she would never forget the older child’s cry. Waking up after the funeral, she said that the boys were waiting for their arrival.
Godley said: “I told him” [their parents] Will always be looking at them, just to see the rainbow and there they are. And look up at the night sky and they are in the stars too.”
During the trial, Reeves claimed that he was hurt by a violent childhood and his time in Afghanistan.
Reeves’ barrister Joe Martin QC read a statement from his brother, Gareth Reeves, who was also in the military. He said: “You are made to be a soldier, you are never willing to seek help for your mental health.”
Reeves claimed that he was triggered into action by the flashing of Chapels’ security lights bright white, reminding him of flares in a battlefield. He described witnesses being brought back from a horrifyingly wounded patrol party. He said he was not given time to “decompress” after his tour.
In a highly unusual move, Reeves’ mother, Lynn, stood in court after the sentence was handed down and blamed her son’s sentence on failures by the two psychiatrists who assessed him. He said that his plea of murder on the ground of lesser responsibility should have been accepted.