Mick was so much more than a very good cameraman

Thumb_mark-austin
Mick Deane was shot and killed yesterday while filming the ongoing violence in the Egyptian capital Cairo for Sky News. Photo: Sky News

Throughout yesterday Mick Deane was described as a "cameraman". That is what he was ... and a very good one. But he was also so much more.

He was a journalist, a producer, a fixer, a picture editor, a fine judge of stories, a wonderful traveling companion and the man you wanted alongside you when things got difficult.

"It’s getting messy," he used to say. "It’s time to leave." He was usually joking and he would keep on filming. But sometimes he meant it. And he was usually right.

A big, lovable bear of a man, he had the misfortune of inheriting me when I joined the Far East Bureau in Hong Kong in 1990. It was my first stint as a foreign correspondent and he was my guiding hand through the forbidding news jungle of Asia.

He would know when to go, when not to go. He would know which airline to fly, where to stay, who to talk to, who to rely on and who to ignore. He would know drivers, local fixers and people you could trust.

He was an 'everything will be fine’ man and when you’re an insecure, uncertain novice trying to make your way in this game he was indispensable.

We went undercover to North Korea, posing as teachers. He put geography teacher on his form and maths teacher on mine, knowing full well it was my worst subject at school.

And how he laughed when the headmaster of a school in Pyongyang invited me to take a lesson.

On day three of a five day trip he sensed they had rumbled us and pushed me to leave. I resisted, but he didn’t fancy being banged up in a North Korean jail and found a way to get us out via Beijing. We left and later found out they had discovered we were journalists and had planned to arrest us.

During a trip to Bosnia, at the height of the war there, we found ourselves trying to reach a village near Tuzla where a massacre had apparently taken place.

At one point on the road he ordered the driver to stop. It was too quiet, no people and, suddenly, very little traffic. He insisted we turn around and head back.

Only later did we hear that a vehicle carrying French photographers was shot at on that same road.

Laid back Mick seldom moaned, even when I called to tear him away again from the young family he was devoted to. No, he didn't whine. He didn’t see much point in it. He just got on with the job and when it was done he knew how to enjoy himself. He loved a beer, especially if it was shared with good company. He liked people - people liked him.

Mick left ITN for Sky fifteen years ago. Our loss was very much their gain.

Now, at 61, he was looking forward to a well-earned retirement in his much loved Italy with his American Italian wife Daniella. He deserved it.

But in Egypt yesterday that future was denied him in the most cruel way.

It got messy in Cairo but this time Mick didn’t leave. Or rather he did. He left us all. And we are the poorer for it.