Published: October 19, 2012
Man charged with seven counts of manslaughter over M5 crash deaths

A man has been charged with seven counts of manslaughter following a pile-up on the M5 in Somerset last year.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, was operating a nearby fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club on the night of the collision.

Seven people were killed and 51 injured in the crash involving 34 vehicles.

The Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday it had authorised Avon and Somerset Police to charge Mr 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 last November.

A police spokesman said: "Since the collision we have worked closely together to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the collision and to carefully consider all the evidence. This has been a complex process which has also involved working with Taunton Deane Borough Council and seeking the views of expert witnesses."

"Having considered the evidence in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the Crown Prosecution Service 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."

"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 Crown Prosecution Service also considered the culpability of Taunton Rugby Club and reached the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

Geoffrey Counsell will appear at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Monday November 12th.

On Friday November 4th 2011, seven people died and 51 people were injured on the M5 near Taunton following a collision between 34 vehicles.

The victims' families are being supported by dedicated family liaison officers from Avon and Somerset Police and this will continue throughout the duration of the court proceedings.


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