Man cleared over M5 crash in which Newport couple died

The only man to be charged following the M5 crash in Somerset which killed seven people has been cleared of breaching of health and safety regulations. Tony and Pamela Adams from Newport died in the crash in November 2011.

West Country (W)

Victims families 'devastated' by case dismissal

The daughter of a couple who were killed in the M5 crash said she was "devastated" with the result - and still blamed Geoffrey Counsell, the fireworks organiser, for the smash.

Elaine Adams, whose parents Anthony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, south Wales, died in the accident, said: "I think I speak on behalf of all the families in the crash - we are devastated."

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Family of Newport couple 'frustrated' after man cleared

The son of a couple killed in a crash on the M5 motorway says the family has been left "frustrated and in limbo" after the case against a firework contractor was dismissed.

Tony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, died in a pile-up on the motorway near Taunton in November 2011.

We have been let down by the judicial system. The full case should have been left to the jury to decide regardless of verdict. We would have been able to have some kind of closure.

We are now left feeling frustrated and in limbo because of technicalities. we hope that in time we can all eventually move on, but fear it will be a longer road than it may have been and we will always have an unrequited need for justice.

– Mark Adams, son of Tony and Pamela Adams
West Country (W)

Acquitted fireworks organiser criticises authorities over prosecution

A Judge directed the jury to find Geoffrey Counsell not guilty. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The man who organised a fireworks display near the scene of a crash on the M5 has criticised the authorities after a case against him was dismissed.

Geoffrey Counsell was accused of failing to ensure the safety of others after 7 people died in a crash on the motorway near the display at Taunton Rugby Club.

A Judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.

Speaking through his soliciter, Mr Counsell said "Before a final decision to go ahead with the display was taken the Highways Agency, the Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Avon and Somerset Constabulary were consulted.

"All were informed of the fact and nature of the display. No objection of any kind was raised. As matters transpired, the Taunton Deane Borough Council and Avon and Somerset Constabulary were to be the agencies which prosecuted me in respect of that same display.

"The display was carried out without incident. It was a very foggy night and the fireworks produced some smoke, which would have mingled with the fog.

"However, I saw nothing to cause me to believe that any firework smoke would cause a hazard and I do not believe that it did so.

"As the judge noted in his ruling, the prosecution case was founded on criticism of me for 'failing to take a step which had never been taken before'.

"It is perhaps relevant to note that there were around 1,000 people at the display, including serving police and fire officers. Not a single one of those people raised any concern at the time about the smoke or fog, whether during or after the display."

Man cleared over M5 crash which killed Newport couple

Tony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, were killed in the crash. Credit: Family photo

A fireworks contractor in charge of a display held on the night of a massive motorway crash in which a Newport couple died has been cleared of breaching health and safety laws.

A judge directed a jury at Bristol Crown Court to find Geoffrey Counsell, 51, not guilty of a single charge of failing to ensure the safety of others contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Tony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, died alongside five others in the massive motorway pile-up involving more than 30 cars. A thick fog had covered a stretch of the M5 at around 8.20pm on 4th November 2011.

Mr Counsell was the contractor hired by Taunton Rugby Club to run a £3,000 fireworks display at its ground. Around 1,500 shots were set off as part of the display just 200 yards from the motorway.

Mr Counsell was originally charged with seven counts of manslaughter but they were dropped earlier this year

West Country (E)

Firework boss pleads not guilty to health & safety charge

The only man to be charged following the M5 crash in Somerset which killed seven people has today pleaded not guilty to a breach of health and safety.

Firework company boss Geoffrey Counsell organised a display at a rugby club beside the motorway in Taunton on the night of the pile-up in November 2011.

From Bristol Crown Court, Richard Payne reports:

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West Country (E)

M5 crash: Man pleads not guilty to health & safety charge

Geoffrey Counsell. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The only man to be charged following the M5 crash in Somerset which killed seven people has today pleaded not guilty to a breach of health and safety.

Firework company boss Geoffrey Counsell organised a display at a rugby club beside the motorway in Taunton on the night of the pile-up in November 2011.

As well as the seven deaths, 51 people were injured, some seriously, in what was one of the worst ever motorway crashes in the UK.

Mr Counsell appeared at Bristol Crown Court to deny a charge that on November 4, 2011 he failed the ensure the health and safety of persons unknown.

He was released on unconditional bail at the end of a 50 minute hearing. A provisional trial date has been set for November 11.

Charges of manslaughter were dropped at an earlier hearing.