Star of the reality TV shows Outback Wrangler and Wild Croc Territory, Matt Wright, 43, was issued an arrest warrant by Northern Territory Police. This follows their investigation into the 28 February helicopter crash in West Arnhem Land. Wright is expected to be charged with multiple offences by NT police, including perverting the course of justice, interfering with witnesses, destruction of evidence, fabrication of evidence, making a false statement, and unlawful entry.
The crash killed Wright’s co-star, Chris “Willow” Wilson, 34, who was harvesting crocodile eggs. He was attached to a 30-metre rope hanging from the helicopter when the crash occurred.
The pilot, Sebastian Robinson, suffered serious spinal injuries from the crash.
Wright has denied any wrongdoing, following today’s announcement by NT Police and subsequent media reports.
It is understood that NT Police have contacted Wright’s legal team, requiring him to present to NT Police in Darwin by Wednesday, 30 November, where he is expected to be charged. Wright currently lives in Queensland.
Police allege that Wright tampered with evidence at the helicopter’s crash site.
They also allege that Wright visited Robinson twice in a Brisbane hospital and attempted to coerce him into deleting evidence from his mobile phone and falsify records relating to the helicopter involved — a Robinson R44 Raven II with the call sign VH-IDW.
CASA requires airworthy Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters to undergo 50-hour and 100-hour services.
At 2,200 hours of total operation time, these helicopters are required to be overhauled — a process costing roughly $400,000.
Police allege Wright had regularly disconnected the hours meter in VH-IDW and other helicopters used by his company, Helibrook, and instructed staff to do the same.
As Helibrook offers scenic and adventure tours, NT Police last month requested any tourists who had travelled in the helicopter to come forward with pictures and videos of the helicopter.
It is understood these images will be used as evidence that the helicopter had been in operation on days that information provided to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority indicated it had not.
Wright was one of four individuals that flew in another helicopter to the crash site in the immediate aftermath. Two of these people — pilot Michael Burbidge and ex-NT police officer Neil Mellon — are also charged with various offenses related to the crash, including destruction of evidence.
The fourth person, crocodile farmer Mick Burns, has no allegations or charges placed against him. He also appeared as a witness in the prosecution’s case against Burbidge last month.