23 October 2020

Fatal injury risk to cameraman killed in stunt not effectively managed, coroner rules

23 October 2020

The risk of fatal injury to a cameraman who died when a stunt on a joint BBC and Netflix drama went wrong was not effectively recognised or managed, a coroner has ruled.

Mark Milsome was killed when a Land Rover ploughed into him during the shoot in Achimota Forest outside Accra in Ghana in November 2017.

The 54-year-old, who had been involved in big-screen hits such as the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, was working at the time for production company Forgiving Earth Limited.

He was filming for the series Black Earth Rising which starred Michaela Coel and John Goodman.

Mark Milsome death (PA Media)

The night-time stunt sequence was supposed to feature the vehicle going up a ramp and toppling over but an inquest heard that it unexpectedly headed for Mr Milsome, killing him and injuring his colleague Paul Kemp.

Mr Milsome’s father Doug, a cinematographer who has worked with director Stanley Kubrick and on Bond films, said at the inquest’s opening earlier this week that standards of professional stunt crew and producers “should never have allowed” his son to die.

Giving his ruling of accidental death on Friday at West London Coroner’s Court, senior coroner Chinyere Inyama said risks had not been managed.

He said: “Mark Milsome died an accidental death. Shortly before the execution of the stunt, the risk of Mr Milsome being harmed or fatally injured was not effectively recognised, assessed, communicated or managed.”

The inquest heard Mr Milsome suffered multiple injuries, including high cervical spine injury, and was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

No-one should ever die for the sake of a shot

Addressing the coroner before he gave his ruling, Mr Milsome’s widow Andra, said tearfully: “No-one should ever die for the sake of a shot.

“Mark’s death certainly should never have happened.”

Originally from Barnes in west London, the cameraman had more recently lived in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, with his wife and their daughter.

Mrs Milsome said his death had “left our world void of life, love and laughter”.

His mother Debbie and sister Sarah Harrison also attended each day of the inquest.

Mark Milsome and child (PA Media)

The four-day sitting heard from the original stunt coordinator – who had no role in the final stunt – that there was a “golden rule” that cameras in front of a moving vehicle should be unmanned.

It also heard that the stunt coordinator John Smith was brought in just three weeks before the incident, that the speedometer in the Land Rover was not working and that there was no overall safety briefing before the stunt took place on November 18.

The vehicle was estimated to be travelling at 47 kilometres per hour when it left the ramp, expert evidence based on experiments using video footage of the incident suggested.

After his death, the family launched the Mark Milsome Foundation (MMF) to nurture young film-making talent. Stars including Robert De Niro, Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp have backed the cause by wearing the organisation’s T-shirts.

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