THE murderer of Minehead teacher Stephen Chapple and his wife Jennifer has had his minimum jail term reduced by the Court of Appeal.

Former Commando Collin Reeves, who lived next door to the couple in Norton Fitzwarren, stabbed them to death in November, 2021.

He took a ceremonial dagger presented to him on leaving the Royal Engineers, climbed over his back garden fence, and attacked Mr and Mrs Chapple in their living room while their two children were asleep upstairs.

He was found guilty of the double murder at a trial in Bristol Crown Court which heard the husband and wife were each stabbed six times and the attack was so swift Mrs Chapple did not even have time to get up from the sofa on which she was sitting.

Judge Mr Justice Neil Garnham jailed him for life in June of last year and imposed a minimum tariff of 38 years.

Now, three Appeal Court judges in London have reduced the minimum term by three years to 35 years.

Lord Justice Holroyde, Mr Justice Kerr, and Judge Timothy Spencer ruled 38 years was ‘excessive’ 

They said a better ‘balance’ should have been reached by Mr Justice Garnham between ‘mitigating and aggravating factors’ in the case.

The appeal justices said Reeves had shown remorse for the killings, he had been suffering depression, he had confessed to the killings, and his military service should have been taken into account.

Psychiatrists for both the prosecution and defence at the Bristol trial had dismissed Reeves’ claims of ‘diminished responsibility’ when he denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

But barrister Jo Martin KC told the appeal judges Reeves had ‘significant mental issues’, and described his conduct as ‘mania’ and the killings as ‘10 minutes of extraordinary behaviour’.

Mr Chapple, aged 36, was a teacher in the West Somerset College, Minehead, and Mrs Chapple, aged 33, worked at a garden centre in Norton Fitzwarren.

Earlier this month, senior Somerset coroner Samantha Marsh wrote to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace asking him to consider the appropriateness of weapons being presented as retirement gifts by the Army.

She said the dagger used by Reeves was ‘still in the community’ because somebody removed it from the murder scene before the police arrived and it had never been recovered.