Oscar winner 'devastated' by Batman stunt death

Conway Wickliffe
Image caption Conway Wickliffe died while filming scenes for the Batman movie, The Dark Knight

An Oscar-winning special effects expert told a court he was "devastated" by the death of a "brilliant technician" on a Surrey film set.

Christopher Corbould, 53, was charged after Conway Wickliffe, 41, died on the set of the Batman movie, The Dark Knight, in Longcross, in 2007.

Mr Corbould told Guildford Crown Court it was "inconceivable" his crew would not be fully briefed before stunts.

He denies one charge of breaching health and safety regulations.

Mr Corbould told the court Mr Wickliffe, who he had worked with for several years, was fatally injured during the filming of an action scene that had been partly shot in Chicago.

He said everyone had been briefed on what they should be doing during the stunt, which involved a vehicle going up a ramp and flipping over.

Mr Corbould added: "It's thoroughly explained to them before.

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

The court was told the crew planned to film the action sequence from a Vauxhall Astra van but he thought a Nissan Navara, driven by his colleague Bruce Armstrong, would be better suited to the terrain.

Neil Fitzgibbon, defending, asked if he had noticed that Mr Wickliffe, who was filming the stunt, did not wear his seatbelt.

Mr Corbould replied: "Bruce and Conway are both middle-aged, responsible, competent technicians who both have a driving licence and a duty of care to themselves, which included putting a seatbelt on to protect themselves.

"That is my expectation."

Hit tree

He said he filled in a risk assessment form and although it did not contain every potential hazard it did not mean they were not accounted for.

Mr Corbould also defended his decision not to hand a copy to other crew members saying he preferred to go through things with them verbally.

He added: "I've spent 37 years with people's lives in my hands."

Mr Wickliffe, a father-of-two, had been leaning out of a car while operating a camera when the vehicle failed to negotiate a bend and hit a tree during the making of the Batman film, an inquest heard.

He suffered severe head injuries in the crash at the test track in Longcross.

An inquest hearing in Woking, in November 2008, ruled his death was an accident.

Mr Corbould won an Academy Award at this year's Oscars for his work on the film, Inception.

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