Daughter of M5 crash victims has sympathy for fireworks boss
The heartbroken daughter of an elderly couple who were among seven people who died in a tragic motorway crash has expressed sympathy for the fireworks boss accused of causing their deaths.
As reported by the Western Daily Press Geoffrey Counsell, 50, of Ashill in Somerset, was last Friday charged with seven counts of manslaughter, including Tonia White’s parents Anthony and Pamela Adams.
Speaking to her local newspaper Mrs White said the surprise news that Mr Counsell was being charged had brought up the horror of the crash again, as the first anniversary of the tragedy nears.
She also said Mr Counsell – who runs Firestorm Pyrotechnic – and his family must be suffering a torment of their own.
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Mr Counsell had organised the fireworks display on November 4 at Taunton Rugby Club, located close to the M5 and he is due to appear before magistrates in Bristol on November 12.
Mrs White, of Taunton, told the Somerset County Gazette: “I don’t really know what to think or what I feel about him being charged.
“It brings everything up again, things from a year ago when it all began.
“I’m sure he’s got family and it must be hard for them. He’s been going through this for a year as well and must have been in torment.”
The seven people who died in the crash were Michael Edwin Barton, 67, from Windsor, his daughter Valerie Margaret Rose Barton, 30, Malcolm Stanley Beacham, 46, of Woolavington, in Somerset, Mr Adams, 73, and Mrs Adams, 70, both of Newport, South Wales, Terence Peter Brice, 55, of Patchway, Bristol, and Kye Thomas, 38, of Gunnislake, Cornwall.
Some 51 people in total also suffered injuries of varying severity in the 34-vehicle pile- up on the tragic evening, which coincided with the nearby Bridgwater Carnival, meaning roads were busier than normal on what was a dismally wet and miserable night.
A joint statement from Avon and Somerset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service was released late last Friday explaining the decision to charge Mr Counsell.
It said: “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 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.”
Mr Counsell, 50, from Somerset, will appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Monday November 12.
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.