Oscar winner accused over NZ cameraman's Batman death

LONDON - An Oscar-winning special effects supervisor has told a British court overnight that he fully briefed staff before a stunt scene test which led to a New Zealand-born cameraman's death during the making of "Batman: The Dark Knight."

Paeroa's Conway Wickliffe, 41, was killed when a 4x4 he was filming from struck a tree during a test run for an action sequence near Chertsey, west of London, in September, 2007.

At a hearing at Guildford Crown Court, Christopher Corbould told jurors he had followed safety procedures correctly and informed staff - including Wickliffe - of every detail of the stunt.

The 53-year-old Corbould, who won an Oscar for his visual effects work on Inception, is accused of health and safety offenses related to Wickliffe's death.

"I would never put someone in the position where they didn't know every single detail of what's going on. That's inconceivable," Corbould told the court.

He said he had worked with Wickliffe, a father of two, for about seven years, and was devastated by his colleague's death.

Prosecutors said Corbould should have more rigorously assessed the potential hazards of the stunt sequence.

The accident happened during the filming of a second section of action scene, following earlier work carried out in Chicago. Corbould said it involved a vehicle mounting a ramp and flipping over, with a second vehicle following close by to film the sequence.

Defence lawyer Neil Fitzgibbon told the court that Wickliffe had not been wearing a seat belt. Courbould said he had expected the cameraman to have used his safety belt.

The movie, released in 2008, paid tribute to Wickliffe and actor Heath Ledger - who played the Joker and died in January 2008 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs - in its closing credits.


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