Infamous house gets royal re-opening

The Duke of Gloucester has opened the renovated Castle House in Taunton. We look back at its somewhat chequered past

Flowers and tributes left on a bridge overlooking the M5 at Taunton, Somerset

Inquest told of horror of M5 crash

Drivers have told an inquest of their horror at being involved in one of the worst British motorway pile-ups in living memory.

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Duke of Gloucester to open Castle House, Taunton

Duke of Gloucester to open Castle House, Taunton Credit: ITV News West Country

Taunton's newly restored Castle House will be officially opened by The Duke of Gloucester today. It's been described as one of the finest medieval buildings of its type in the region.

It's in the courtyard of Taunton castle and is believed to have been the place where Judge Jeffreys stayed during the notorious Bloody Assizes. It was restored at a cost of around a million pounds using original techniques.

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West Country (E)

M5 inquest - smoke ruled out as cause of crash

Smoke from a fireworks display has officially been ruled out as the cause of the M5 pile-up which killed seven people.

That was the summary from the West Somerset coroner this afternoon at the inquest into one of Britain's worst motorway accidents.

Michael Rose said he would be meeting with authorities before making further rulings on safety - including whether there should be tighter controls on fireworks displays near busy roads. David Woodland reports.

West Country (E)

Coroner: Reduced visibility caused M5 crash

by David Woodland

Coroner Michael Rose says the deceased died as a result of a road traffic accident as vehicles entered an area of reduced visibility.The Coroner will meet authorities before making a ruling regarding:

  • Education for fireworks operators - whether minimum distances should be set for displays near highways
  • Whether licensing of displays is needed
  • Whether visual detection devices should be installed on this stretch of motorway

The Coroner thanked all emergency services and members of the public.

A minute's silence was held as the names of the dead were read out.

West Country (E)

Smoke from fireworks display not to blame for crash

by David Woodland

The Coroner in the M5 crash inquest has dismissed the possibility that smoke from firework display caused the accident.

Some firework smoke carried over motorway - some lower level smoke carried in a different direction.

HSE, British Pyrotechnics Association and highways legislation has been examined - none contain a warning about risk from firework smoke in foggy conditions.

Coroner Michael Rose says "I was left with the impression that fireworks organiser Geoffrey Counsell was a competent operator who had been putting on displays for 20 years".

West Country (E)

Coroner begins summing up at M5 crash inquest

by David Woodland

The coroner has begun summing up at the M5 inquest in Taunton. After listing the 7 dead, their ages and addresses the court has been hearing how each of the 34 vehicles was damaged.

Burning fuel is thought to have helped spread the fire. A diesel tank exploded knocking firemen off their feet as they tried to fight the flames. Exploding lorry tyres added to the noise.

The names of those who helped and details what they did at the crash have been given in court.

Kevin Faulkner was pinned by the legs but directed the emergency services to help others in more need - even though flames were spreading closer to him. He was rescued in time after others had been helped.

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Inquest into M5 crash deaths likely to end today

Inquest reopens into M5 crash, where seven people died Credit: ITV News West Country

The inquest into the deaths of seven people in a crash on the M5 in Somerset is likely to end today.

Evidence about the fatal pile-up near Taunton in November 2011 has been presented over almost three weeks. The Coroner Michael Rose is expected to give his verdict later.

"Think Amy" road safety campaign goes national

A mother whose 13 year-old daughter was killed by a speeding driver says she hopes her death will be a warning to others. Amy Hofmeister died while cycling close to her home in Taunton.

Shortly afterwards her mother Jane started the "THINK Amy" campaign. It's just been given charitable status, with top cricketer Marcus Trescothick as patron. Eli-Louise Wringe reports

West Country (E)

Fireworks man: 'Smoke did not drift over motorway'

Fireworks display organiser Geoffrey Counsell. Credit: PA

The inquest into the M5 crash in which seven people died, has heard that smoke from a nearby fireworks display did not drift over the motorway.

Display organiser Geoffrey Counsell said he was standing between the fireworks display and the carriageway and was worried visibility would be reduced for spectators as the smoke was drifting towards them.

The hearing continues.

Fireworks organiser to speak at M5 Inquest

Geoffrey Counsell will give evidence today Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The organiser of a fireworks display next to the site of the M5 crash will give evidence at the crash inquest today. Geoffrey Counsell has been cleared of breaching health and safety regulations. Seven people died in the accident in 2011.

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