M5 crash: man pleads not guilty

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.

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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.

M5 manslaughter charges dropped against firework organiser

Manslaughter charges are to be dropped against the man who organised a firework display on the night of the M5 crash in Somerset in which seven people died. Bristol Crown Court heard that Geoffrey Cousell will face a health and safety charge.

Fifty-one people were also injured in the crash near Taunton in November 2011.

Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour said of Avon and Somerset police said:

The collision on the M5 in November 2011 was one of the worst in living memory. 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. Based on this evidence the Crown Prosecution Service decided to charge. However, following further consideration in recent weeks they have decided to drop the manslaughter charges.

– Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour