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Fireworks display organiser in court over M5 motorway crash deaths

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

Geoffrey Counsell outside Bristol Magistrates Court yesterday

Geoffrey Counsell outside Bristol Magistrates Court yesterday

A fireworks boss appeared in court yesterday charged with the manslaughter of seven people who died in a motorway pile-up near a display he organised.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, oversaw an event at Taunton Rugby Club in Somerset shortly before a 34-car collision on the M5.

Seven people died and 51 were injured in the pile-up, which happened in poor visibility close to junction 25 at 8.30pm on November 4 last year.

Mr Counsell, who runs Firestorm Pyrotechnics, was charged last month over alleged failings in the planning and operation of the display.

Yesterday he made his first appearance at Bristol Magistrates’ Court, where he did not enter a plea and spoke only to confirm his name and address.

Mr Counsell, of Ashill, Somerset, was bailed and is due to appear at Bristol Crown Court on December 4.

Lorry drivers Terry Brice, from Patchway, south 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, South Wales, and battle re-enactor Malcolm Beacham, from Bridgwater, Somerset.

In a joint statement released last month, Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said no action would be taken against any motorists or the club. They said: “Since the collision, we have worked closely together to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the collision and to carefully consider all the evidence.”

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