An Afganistan veteran on trial for stabbing his neighbours to death after a long-standing parking dispute said he does not remember doing it.
Collin Reeves, 35, allegedly murdered Jennifer and Stephen Chapple in their home in Norton Fitwarren, outside Taunton in Somerset, on November 21 last year.
There had been several arguments between the family and Reeves over a parking disagreement that had started six months before.
Things came to a head when Reeves climbed the fence between the neighbours’ gardens and snuck into the Chapple’s house through their back door.
He then stabbed both parents in their living room while their two young sons were asleep upstairs.
After the horrific attack, Reeves climbed back over the fence, called the police and told the operator: ‘I went round with a knife, I’ve stabbed both of them.’
Despite this, Reeves on Monday told Bristol Crown Court he has no recollection of many of the details from that night.
He does, however, remember sitting on the stairs in tears over his wife asking for a separation – just 40 minutes before the violence.
His defence lawyer asked: ‘Do you have any memory of what you were thinking about when you were sitting on the stairs?’
And Reeves answered: ‘Just the fear of losing everything, I just felt “like we are going to split up”, that was it, (my wife) was talking about me going to stay with my parents.’
The next thing Reeves remembers was a bright light coming on and trying to get down onto his front.
Reeves, who has previously told the court about his fear of CCTV cameras and surveillance, 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.
‘I remember the handle of the (Chapples’) back door, the handle coming down. I had a feeling like it was me or them. I know it was wrong, I should never have been there.’
Reeves insists he does not remember picking his weapon up at any point – the ceremonial dagger given to him when he left the Army.
He recalls hearing his wife scream when he returned to his own home.
When at the police station, he told officers he was ‘Lance Corporal Reeves, sir’, and gave his military service number.
He also said ‘I was just doing my job’ and ‘I was on an operation’.
When Reeves was being cross-examined by the prosecution, he acknowledged that he must have had a memory of the event when he made the 999 call.
Reeves also opened up about growing up in a house where there was domestic abuse. He told the court he had a tendency to bottle up his feelings.
During his evidence, Reeves recounted a culture of domestic abuse in his house growing up, and his own tendency to bottle up his feelings.
He said: ‘I feel ashamed, disgusted with myself for what I’ve done, for taking Stephen and Jennifer’s life while their children were in bed, causing pain and suffering to their families and friends, knowing their two boys were in bed when it happened, why they can never see their mum and dad again because of me.
‘I’ve always felt ashamed to talk to anyone about my feelings or thoughts because I always thought it was a sign of weakness, but now I am more ashamed for not talking or seeking help, because of what I have done.’
Reeves accepts stabbing Mr and Mrs Chapple, but denies murder, and has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The trial, which is expected to last eight days, continues.
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