Manslaughter charges brought against a fireworks display organiser after a crash on the M5 which killed seven people, including a Bristol lorry driver, have been dropped.
Oh, he still faces charges, but not so severe ones:
Peter Blair QC, prosecuting, said a “firm decision” had now been made to prosecute Counsell under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the safety of others.
So…why were manslaughter charges ever considered? A question that the defence asked, in truth:
The Recorder of Bristol, Neil Ford QC, declined a request by Mr Blair to use his powers to sit as a magistrate so Counsell could be charged and committed to Crown court immediately.Adrian Derbyshire QC, defending, had discouraged the judge from taking that course, saying the defence should have time to “consider the implications” of any new charge.
Mr Derbyshire added that his view was that Counsell “should never have been charged with manslaughter”.
After the case Crown Prosecution Service chief prosecutor for the South West, Barry Hughes, said the decision to drop the manslaughter charge was due to there being insufficient evidence to proceed with it and had been made after taking “further advice from a leading expert on the law of negligence”.
Maybe I’m cynical, but perhaps the real reason is that they suddenly realised he wasn’t going to plead guilty and throw himself on the mercy of the court. So they might actually have to do some work!