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Taunton M5 crash deaths: Fireworks provider charged with manslaughter

By abbiewhouse  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

The scene of the crash on the M5 motorway near Taunton last November

A man has been charged with seven counts of manslaughter following the fatal M5 pile-up in November 2011.

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

He was charged on Friday night in connection with the crash, near Taunton, where seven people died and 51 injured.

Mr Counsell will appear at Bristol Magistrates' Court on November 12.

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In a joint statement released on Friday night, Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service 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.

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

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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