'We wanted jury to make decision', says M5 crash victim's family as Geoffrey Counsell case collapses

Somerset County Gazette: Tonia and Phil White at a memorial for victims at Hankridge Farm, Taunton. Tonia and Phil White at a memorial for victims at Hankridge Farm, Taunton.

THE daughter of a couple who were killed in the horrific M5 crash says she feels “let down” by the justice system a judge threw out a court case.

Tonia White, of Taunton, is disappointed the judge stopped the trial of Geoffrey Counsell, 51, of Ashill at the halfway point, describing the decision as “futile.”

Tonia’s parents Anthony and Pamela Adams were travelling back to Newport, South Wales, when they were caught in the pile-up near Taunton on November 4, 2011.

Mr Counsell was accused of breaching health and safety laws in relation to a fireworks display he held at Taunton Rugby Club on the night.

Tonia said: “I am absolutely devastated and feel really let down by the justice system. Had it gone to the jury, regardless of its decision, everybody would have been a lot happier.

“At least it would have made an informed decision – the defence had not presented their case at all.”

Mr Justice Simon stopped the case because, in his view, a jury could not properly convict someone on the evidence they had heard.

The decision to take Mr Counsell to trial has come under widespread criticism, but Tonia believes it should have been given longer.

“It’s taken a long time to prepare the case and I think that given the amount of time and effort it seems futile to pull the plug when we have got a jury sitting there,” she said.

“That’s what the British justice system is about.

“The decision has left us in the lurch; there is no closure. It just goes on and on and we’ve got the inquests to come next year.”

Tonia has also joined those in calling for a change in law regarding holding a fireworks display.

She said: “There are things I want to look in to, like how you can run a fireworks display without a licence. You need a licence for a concert or even to watch TV.

“These are explosives we’re talking about and they are dangerous.

“I think the legislation needs to be looked at and hopefully in the future that will help somebody else.”


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