Special effects expert cleared of '07 Batman death

LONDON Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:03pm EDT

Heath Ledger is seen on screen from the movie ''The Dark Knight'' at the 14th annual Critics' Choice awards in Santa Monica, California, January 8, 2009. Ledger, who died on January 22, 2008, won Best Supporting Actor for the role. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Heath Ledger is seen on screen from the movie ''The Dark Knight'' at the 14th annual Critics' Choice awards in Santa Monica, California, January 8, 2009. Ledger, who died on January 22, 2008, won Best Supporting Actor for the role.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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LONDON (Reuters) - An Oscar-winning special effects expert was cleared Monday of health and safety breaches after a cameraman died during the making of the last Batman movie in 2007.

Conway Wickliffe, 41, was killed when the vehicle from which he was filming struck a tree during a test run for an action scene in "The Dark Knight," starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.

The father-of-two suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene at an industrial site in southern England.

Jurors at Guildford Crown Court took less than two hours to find special effects supervisor Christopher Corbould, 53, not guilty of failing to ensure his safety, the Press Association reported. Their decision was unanimous.

Corbould, who won an Oscar last month for the special effects in Hollywood blockbuster "Inception," looked relieved and could be heard to breathe a sigh of relief as jurors returned their verdict.

"The Dark Knight" was a global box office hit, generating just over $1 billion in ticket sales and earning Ledger, who played The Joker, a posthumous Oscar. Bale portrayed Batman.

Ledger died in New York in 2008 of an accidental prescription drug overdose, aged 28.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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