Manslaughter charges dropped for M5 crash accused Geoffrey Counsell

Bridgwater Mercury: Geoffrey Counsell Geoffrey Counsell

SEVEN manslaughter charges have been dropped against the man in charge of a fireworks display held on  the night of the M5 crash at Taunton.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, will instead face one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the safety of others, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

That case will be heard at a later date.

The crash happened in November 2011 and saw seven people lose their lives and another 51 injured.

Mr Counsell had been organising a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club next to the motorway when the crash happened.

Senior Investigation Officer for the M5 collision, Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour said: "The collision on the M5 in November 2011 was one of the worst in living memory.

"Fifty one people were injured and seven people tragically lost their lives. We launched a comprehensive investigation immediately after to establish the full circumstances which led to the collision.

"Our investigation was meticulous and complex. We took hundreds of witness statements, examined 34 vehicles and consulted several experts, including meteorologists, pyrotechnic and forensic specialists.

"Based on this evidence the Crown Prosecution Service took a decision to charge. However, following further consideration in recent weeks they have decided to discontinue the manslaughter charges."

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman added: "With Health and Safety proceedings imminent, we are not able to comment any further."

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