UK & World News
M5 Pile-Up: Man Charged Over Seven Deaths
A man has been charged with seven counts of manslaughter after a fatal pile-up on the M5 during thick fog.
Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, was operating a fireworks display at nearby Taunton Rugby Club when the crash - which involved 34 vehicles - happened in November 2011.
Seven people were killed and 51 others injured.
Lorry drivers Terry Brice, from Patchway, Gloucestershire, and Kye Thomas, from Gunnislake, Cornwall, died in the crash along with father and daughter Michael and Maggie Barton, from Windsor, Berkshire, grandparents Anthony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, and battle re-enactor Malcolm Beacham, from Woolavington, near Bridgwater.
Among those badly injured in the crash on the north-bound carriageway at junction 25 was Emma Barton, 19, who woke from a five-day coma to discover her father and sister had been killed.
A statement from Avon and Somerset Police and Crown Prosecution Service 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 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 statement added there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for driver error or the culpability of Taunton Rugby Club.
Counsell is due to appear at Bristol Magistrates' Court on November 12.
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what do you think?
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How sad ;((((( I think it was just a tragic sequence of events...... nobody should be blamed ......
You can't charge this poor man, it was just an unfortunate accident. Stop looking for a scapegoat
Why charge anyone it was an accident sad we know but an accident, poor man.
Censor me as much as you like Orange. The fact remains that people drive like idiots in poor conditions. That may break your precious T&C's but makes it no less valid.
Absoulutely disgusting decision. If all drivers had been driving with care and attention this would not have happened. It was thick fog and drivers should not have been driving fast and they should have been prepared for the unexpected. Charging this man is criminal in itself.
I suppose they need someone to point their finger at . It was a tragic accident and I feel sorry for all the people and families concerned but to blame this man is not the answer !!!
I support the accused. They are trying to pin this tragic accident on a person. Its wrong. People always drive far too quickly and close together on motorways. Why was the display allowed to take place in the first place if it was too close to the motorway? Its scapegoat time.
Do people not realise this charge is being dictated by insurance?! Someone has to be at fault. Thats why police say road traffic collision because road traffic accident implies no one is to blame. Madness.
Unjust and unfair to put this man though this. We truly do live in despicable world.
Picking out one person as a scapegoat is totally unjust. Drivers were not exercising due caution in the foggy conditions. However the fireworks display should never have been allowed so close to the motorway as it was absolutely a distraction rather like the illegal ads the landowners are now displaying on the sides of HGV trailers. They distract motorists who should be keeping their eyes on the road ahead but when it comes down to profit the authority's like to turn a blind eye themselves!
One question it seems no one has asked. Was it a legal registered display? Did the local council provide permission and documentation for the display in the area where it was held? If they did, then 'They' are fully to blame for not assessing the risks of smoke next to the motorway so someone needs to look into this before a man goes to jail for doing something for his community.....
Presumably,the smoke was visible by definition,and therefore approaching drivers were required to see it if driving with due care and attention.The first driver to see it would have been required to slow down if driving with due care and attention,presumably the driver did slow down and the following drivers started to crash into each other.This tells us that A) the first driver to slow down was driving with due care and attention.B).any following driver that hit the one ahead was driving without due care and attention.C).the crown prosecution service are clutching at straws to find a cause other than the factual one which is explained above.If this case is found in favour of the prosecution then we can start to sue councils for not shading sun glare from the roads or keeping motorways open in fog or heavy rainfall when a "collision" occurs.This "who can we blame"decision is farcical and shows clearly how poor and unfit for purpose the crown prosecution service and there "partners"are.Listen to the radio each morning and hear of the thousands of so called road accident closures bringing the country to a standstill,road collisions are CAUSED by BAD driving,please stop trying to pass the book.Look at any fast lane on any uk motorway and see the bumper to bumper idiots just waiting for a pile up,what are our agencies doing about this?
I live near the area and on the night went to another large fireworks display nearby. It was very foggy,(and still) more so than I've ever seen before. The fire works display I watched started reasonably well but within minutes, the smoke from the fireworks explosions could not disapate and was left shrouding the whole area. Within 5 mins, we could not even see the fireworks display 50 feet in front of us!!. I have never seen any thing like it. It was bizarre to say the least. This pale of smoke slowly drifting over the motorway would have been like driving into a brick wall. I doubt one would have seen brake lights in time either. No ones fault..Freak act of nature and so sorry for all concerned.
If you're going so fast that you cannot stop in the distance to be seen to be clear then that's reckless driving.