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Pyrotechnician charged over M5 crash deaths

By mwill  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

The scene of the M5 pile-up

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A pyrotechnican has been charged with seven counts of manslaughter in connection with the M5 pile-up involving 34 vehicles, which killed seven people and injured 51 on 4 November last year.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, had organised a firework display at Taunton Rugby Club, close to the M5 motorway. The charges relate to alleged "failings in the planning and operation of the display."

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service and Avon and Somerset Police said:

"Today the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Avon and Somerset Police to charge Geoffrey Counsell with seven counts of manslaughter following the deaths of Anthony and Pamela Adams, Maggie and Michael Barton, Malcolm Beacham, Terry Brice and Kye Thomas in a collision on the M5 in November 2011.

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 failings in the planning and operation of the display."

None of the motorists involved will be charged as "...there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for driver error and therefore no action will be taken against any motorists."

Counsell will appear at Bristol Magistrates' Court next month.

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  • elfa66  |  October 22 2012, 12:38PM

    I think it's time they banned the sale of fireworks full stop. There are numerous accidents caused by them, and they terrify animals.

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  • josdave  |  October 22 2012, 11:11AM

    Wrong he may not have had permission for the display but the smoke from the fire did blow aaway from the M5 so the cause is driver error and he should not be charged with anything other than having the display without the correct permission.

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  • jamjar  |  October 22 2012, 10:32AM

    From reading the above it sounds like the reason he has been charged is because the council authorised the firework display with restrictions in place to stop excessive smoke as it was close to the M5. He decided not to follow these restrictions and his occupation was in the field of firework displays. So if he knowingly set up a firework display which flounted regulations for the firework display he in effect did kill the people on the M5

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  • josdave  |  October 21 2012, 6:32PM

    From what I heard the smoke from the bonfire was blown away from the M5 so why are they charging him? The real cause, and he is probably one of the victims is the motorist who was going too fast for the conditions and when he braked all those behind ploughed into him and there was chaos. While, as they said, there was insufficient evidence to charge any motorists it was clearly driver error and not the fault of the firework display.

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  • barrtribe  |  October 21 2012, 1:27PM

    I guess he was just a man trying to do something for the club and community. The way the article reads is that they couldn't get enough evidence on the drivers. Someone had to pay so they went for the easy target. Why does it always have to be someone's fault. Does this mean that anyone who lets off a firework in their garden and someone crashes near by; its their fault. Like the marines who were doing their jobs; and I'm sure now other soldiers doing their jobs and anyone who wants to try help build community/ raise money. With the current blame culture soon no one is going to feel safe doing anything. Why should soldiers put their life on the line only to be accused of murder. Why would the average Joe put in a load of effort for the community only to be accused of manslaughter.

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