M5 crash: fireworks display organiser charged with manslaughter

November 2012

Live events sector

The organiser of a fireworks display at a rugby club near the M5 has been charged with manslaughter following a pile up on the motorway which killed seven people. Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, had provided a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club in a field close to the M5 motorway on 4 November 2011 when 34 vehicles crashed into each other. Seven people were killed and 51 were injured in the pile up. Rescue workers at the time described it as the worst British motorway accident in memory and witnesses described poor visibility on the motorway where the crash happened. In a joint statement, Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, said last night: “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” adding “Having considered the evidence … 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” and “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” and finally “The CPS also considered the culpability of Taunton Rugby Club and reached the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”


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