An inquiry into the fatal incident that took the life of UK cameraman Mark Milsome closed today with a ruling of “accidental death”. Milsome was killed in November 2017 in Ghana while filming a stunt scene on BBC and Netflix series Black Earth Rising.
The inquest took place at West London Coroner’s Court this week. The final verdict read: “‘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.”
Earlier in the week, the court had heard from Milsome’s father Doug Milsome, a highly regarded cinematographer with credits including Full Metal Jacket, who claimed industry standards “should never have allowed” his son to be in danger.
“I have shot Bond movies and death-defying action sequences far more complex than the ones that killed my son,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying. “The standards of professional stunt crew and producers, those who make key decisions, should never have allowed Mark to die that night – a fact.”
Dean Byfield, fist AD on Black Earth Rising, told the inquiry he had “no misgivings” about the stunt but what transpired was “completely shocking and unexpected”.
Paul Kemp, who was a grip on the series and was stood close to Milsome when the incident took pace, told the court he “realized something was wrong because it [the car] was going faster than in rehearsals”. He added that he had checked multiple times with the production that him and Milsome would be in a safe position.
It is not immediately clear what the next steps will be in the long-running proceedings following the deadly incident. Reacting to the inquest’s verdict today, Mark Milsome’s wife Andra said that while it was “awful having to re-live Mark’s final hours” she was grateful to “finally have some answers to questions we have been seeking for almost three years”. In terms of next steps, she added that she hoped the Mark Milsome Foundation, set up in his honor, would “help ensure that improvements are made and lessons are learned.”
Her solicitor, Caroline Davies, added, “While nothing will change what happened to Mark, Andra welcomes the end of the inquest and is satisfied that at least some of her questions have been answered about the circumstances surrounding Mark’s death.”