Fireworks organiser in court over M5 deaths

South Wales Argus: IN COURT: Geoffrey Counsell IN COURT: Geoffrey Counsell

A FIREWORKS display organiser appeared in court today charged with seven counts of manslaughter - including the manslaughter of a Newport couple - following a pile-up on the M5 in which seven people died.

Geoffrey Counsell, 50, from Somerset, was operating a firework display in a field close to the motorway, at Taunton Rugby Club, at the time of the crash on the night of November 4 2011. Newport grandparents Anthony and Pamela Adams died in the crash.

Mr Adams, 73, had been in the Army for 22 years. He and his 70-year-old wife had been patrons of Air Ambulance Cymru. The couple had seven children.

A court official said Counsell was granted unconditional bail by Bristol magistrates and is due to appear at the city's Crown Court on December 4.

More than 50 people were injured in the collision which involved 34 vehicles on the northbound carriageway at junction 25.

The incident was described as one of the worst British motorway crashes in memory.

Lorry drivers Terry Brice, from Patchway, South Gloucestershire, and Kye Thomas, from Gunnislake, Cornwall, also died, along with father and daughter Michael and Maggie Barton, from Windsor, Berkshire, and battle re-enactor Malcolm Beacham, from Woolavington, near Bridgwater.

Among those badly injured was Emma Barton, 19, who woke from a five-day coma to discover she had been orphaned.

Her wheelchair-bound father Michael, 67, and 30-year-old sister Maggie died.

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