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Fireworks organiser charged with manslaughter after last year’s M5 pile-up

  • 23 October 2012
  • By Chris Druce

The organiser of a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club taking place near to the site of last year’s M5 pile-up that claimed seven lives, including two truck drivers, has been charged with manslaughter.

In a joint statement issued by Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) it was revealed that Geoffrey Counsell, 50, had been charged with seven counts of manslaughter.

Anthony and Pamela Adams, Maggie and Michael Barton, Malcolm Beacham, Terry Brice and Kye Thomas were all killed in a collision on the M5 in November 2011.

The statement continues: “Having considered the evidence in line with the code for crown prosecutors, the CPS decided there was sufficient evidence to charge Geoffrey Counsell, the provider of the fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club on the night of the collision, with manslaughter. The charges are due to his alleged failings in the planning and operation of the display.

“It was clear from the investigation carried out by Avon and Somerset Police that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for driver error and therefore no action will be taken against any motorists.”

The CPS said it had also considered the culpability of the rugby club but decided there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

Geoffrey Counsell, from Somerset, will appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Monday November 12.

On Friday 4 November, seven people died and 51 people were injured, including several truck drivers, on the M5 near Taunton after a collision between 34 vehicles.


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