Man charged following fatal M5 collision


Today the Crown Prosecution Service 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.

Geoffrey Counsell, aged 50 and from Somerset, will appear at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Monday November 12.

On Friday November 4, 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.