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24th Nov 2021

Tributes paid to ‘genuinely lovely’ couple killed in Somerset ‘parking row’

Steve Hopkins

Police said the incident would be referred to the policing watchdog due to ‘prior police contact with those involved’

A couple believed to have been murdered over a neighbourhood parking row in Somerset have been remembered as “genuinely lovely” people.

Steven and Jenny Chapple were found dead on Sunday in their home, alongside their two young boys who were unharmed but described by police as “distressed”.

A 34-year-old man, believed to have a military background, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody while a second man, aged 67, was arrested for murder, but has been released under investigation.

A parking dispute is believed to have led to the couple’s deaths, which has shocked the “close-knit” community in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, where floral tributes have since been left.

Neighbours say Steven, 34, and Jenny, 33, “will be missed dearly”.

Police and forensics teams have remained present on Dragon Rise, where the deceased couple lived, and their stretch of the road has been cordoned off while officers try to retrieve a murder weapon.

Police were seen digging around in nearby drains in the cordoned-off area on Tuesday. The killings were rumoured to be linked to a dispute with neighbours over parking – and one local resident confirmed it had been an issue of contention in the area and often a topic of discussion on a community Facebook page for Norton Fitzwarren residents.

Drone pictures also show two cars parked bumper to bumper in the one designated space for the couple on the estate.

Melissa, who also lives along Dragon Rise, said: “I never knew of a dispute over parking that Jenny and Steven were involved with specifically. But everyone has an issue with parking around here.

“Some people have multiple cars, there isn’t space for and it has caused a lot of upset.”

But she added: “Despite the parking issues it has always felt like a family-orientated area and the murders have come as a total shock.”

Friends, family, and people from the community have been dropping off flowers in tribute to the parents, who have been described as being “genuinely lovely people” who “will be missed dearly”.

One unnamed resident who lived nearby to the couple, and whose children went to the same school as the Jenny and Steven’s, said: “Jennifer was always very chatty and she loved dogs – she’d run-up to every dog she saw.

“Steve was also a lovely man – he seemed to be very devoted to his children.”

Another nearby resident called Barbara, aged 40, said: “I wasn’t close to the family but whenever I saw Jennifer she was ever so friendly and was always smiling.

“She was always really happy and would stop for a laugh and a joke.

“Her hair was always bright – just like her personality.

“They will both be dearly missed.”

Colleagues of Jennifer have also paid tribute to a “well-loved and respected” colleague.

She worked at the Otter garden centre at Pen Elm, near Taunton. Steven worked in IT.

“It’s still raw at the moment for all the staff,” Rob Brooks, the manager of the centre, said.

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“As a centre, our hearts go out to those children that are left behind. “She (Jennifer) was a well-loved and respected member of the team. “She was a lovely, kind-hearted lady and a devoted mother.

“It’s very raw, she was very close to a lot of the team.”

Another neighbour, whose home backed onto the victim’s gardens, said both sets of residents that lived in the properties currently sealed by police were “nice, normal families.

“They were all nice normal families I thought. In summer they would have barbecues and be outside together chatting and laughing as they ate and drank.”

“They all seemed totally normal so it is such a shock to discover what happened.”

Avon and Somerset Police said the incident on the Dragon Rise estate would be referred to the policing watchdog due to “prior police contact with those involved”.

Among the notes left in tribute at the scene was one that read: “Jennifer you lit up the street with your smile.

“You and Steve have been such wonderful friends since you arrived in our lives. Such a kind and welcoming couple.

“You have left a void that will be felt across all those who knew you. Words cannot express how much we’ll miss you both.”