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Death by firework
marymary100 - 20-10-2012 at 11:22

Firework display organiser charged with manslaughter

The organiser of a fireworks display that was taking place next to the site of a motorway pile up that claimed seven lives has been charged with the manslaughter of the victims.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, will appear before magistrates in Bristol next month accused of seven counts of manslaughter.

On Friday 4 November last year, seven people died and 51 people were injured on the M5 near Taunton in Somerset following a collision between 34 vehicles.

A statement released on Friday night by Avon and Somerset police and the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that Taunton Rugby Club, which hosted the display, would not be prosecuted. Nor would any of the motorists involved.

Should he have foreseen that his display would lead to so many deaths?

crikey - 20-10-2012 at 14:25

I really don't know the ins and outs of how these displays are approved, but it seems a bit harsh to place such foresight on him.

You might argue that holding such a display next to a busy motorway or any other major road could distract drivers. In which case, then, and assuming such displays do require approval by the local council or even the police, what about the "responsibility" of those bodies?

Nor do I have any knowledge of whether it was the display itself or just the stupidity of rubber-necking drivers that caused the pile-up. On balance, I can't help but feel this manslaughter charge he is facing is rather savage.

marymary100 - 20-10-2012 at 15:02

I think they can only prove that he was responsible for the fireworks and don't have enough evidence for what the drivers did however clever counsel will get him off I suspect. It seems that the announcement was timed to act as a deterrent for this year's celebrations imo.

Katzy - 20-10-2012 at 15:21

Originally posted by marymary100It seems that the announcement was timed to act as a deterrent for this year's celebrations imo.

That. :)

LSemmens - 21-10-2012 at 03:08

Without all the attendant facts, it is difficult to make an informed judgement. On the surface of it, no he should not be charged, unless his fireworks were a direct impediment on the road. i.e. landing there or so close to the motorway vehicles had no recourse but to take evasive action. If a permit was required, then the issuing authority must be culpable.

Nimuae - 21-10-2012 at 06:04

It seems unfair to put all the blame on one person.

Yes - with hindsight - it was a silly place to put the display but, as others have said, he must have had a permit from somewhere. Did they not check before issuing ?

Nimuae - 3-11-2012 at 07:51

Anyone heard any more about this ?

marymary100 - 3-11-2012 at 09:22

No. It generally takes a long time from the charge to the trial so that a jury can be selected who do not really know about what the papers have reported. However, in an age of instant access online that is getting harder and harder to manage.

A boy I taught's murder trial is coming up this month I believe but the murder charge was over a year ago.

Morticia - 3-11-2012 at 13:39

I'm not sure either how these displays are regulated ... but I had thought, could be mistaken, that public displays over a certain size had to have the approval and a site safety check from the local Fire Brigade before they could go ahead, if only for Public Liability Insurance purposes.

But leaving that aside and asking should he be prosecuted?
The charge is manslaughter?
I wonder what happened to the charge of 'negligence' ... similar to with surgeons in malpractice cases.

John_Little - 3-11-2012 at 17:04

At the display at our caravan site last week two people were hit by fireworks that fell over. To be honest, when you see the size of moder fireworks - rockets in particular with 2x2 lumps of timber (well only slightly smaller) falling out of the sky I'm amazed there aren't more problems

LSemmens - 4-11-2012 at 11:26

A boy I taught's murder trial is.......
I hope that's not what you taught him! shocked_yellowshocked_yellowshocked_yellownananana:D

marymary100 - 4-11-2012 at 11:58

Opinion is divided about whether he is the murderer or the scapegoat. If it gets put into the paper I'll eventually post a link.

marymary100 - 8-11-2012 at 19:46

Originally posted by marymary100
Opinion is divided about whether he is the murderer or the scapegoat. If it gets put into the paper I'll eventually post a link.