- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2011

LONDON (AP) - A British jury on Monday cleared an Oscar-winning special effects supervisor over the death of a cameraman during the making of “Batman: The Dark Knight.”

New Zealand-born Conway Wickliffe, 41, was killed when a vehicle he was filming from struck a tree during a test run for an action sequence near Chertsey, west of London, in Sept. 2007.

The jury at Guildford Crown Court took less than two hours to unanimously find Christopher Corbould, 53, not guilty of failing to ensure Wickliffe’s safety. Corbould looked relieved and could be heard breathing a sigh of relief as jurors returned their verdict clearing him of health and safety breaches.

Corbould’s lawyer Chris Humphreys said the special effects supervisor and his family were “tremendously happy with the decision of the jury.”

“We always thought from the beginning that this was an ill-conceived and misguided prosecution,” Humphreys said outside the court. “World class actors do not put their livelihoods and well-being in the hands of people that don’t put their health and safety first.”

Corbould _ who won an Oscar for his visual effects work on “Inception” _ had said he had followed safety procedures correctly and informed staff, including Wickliffe, of every detail of the stunt.

“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.

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

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