Croc star charged over NT helicopter crash

Minders jostle the media as Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright [centre] arrives at Darwin airport.

Minders jostle the media as Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright [centre] arrives at Darwin airport. Photo: AAP

Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright has been charged with a slew of alleged offences related to a helicopter crash that killed a cast member.

Wright, 43, who “strenuously denies any wrongdoing”, has been granted bail to appear at Darwin Local Court on Wednesday.

He is accused of perverting the course of justice, destruction of evidence, fabricating evidence, interfering with witnesses, making a false declaration and two counts of unlawful entry.

The crocodile trapper-turned-media personality flew from Sydney on Tuesday morning after Northern Territory police issued an arrest warrant a day earlier.

Wright later turned himself in at Darwin Police Station about 2pm before police moved him to a Palmerston watch house about 20 kilometres south.

Matt Wright returns to the NT to face charges

Wright ‘strenuously denies any wrongdoing’

He was released on bail about 6pm to appear in Darwin Local Court on Wednesday morning.

The father of two’s bail conditions include a direction to not contact certain people and to reside at a prescribed address.

In a statement on Monday, a representative for Wright said “Matt strenuously denies any wrongdoing”.

“What happened was a tragic accident that took the life of a close mate,” the representative said.

“His immediate concern following the accident was the condition of the two team members on board at the time.

“The next priority was ensuring the other helicopters and team members at the site weren’t at risk and that the location was safe.”

Chris Wilson, 34, was killed on February 28 when the Robinson R44 helicopter he was hanging 30 metres below collided with trees and the ground in west Arnhem Land.

His body was found 40 metres from the main wreckage at the King River crash site, a preliminary Air Transport Safety Bureau report revealed in April.

Mr Wilson, also a father of two, was attached to a line using a harness so he could harvest eggs from crocodile nests in swampy areas while the helicopter hovered above.

The crashed helicopter was one of three collecting eggs on the day. It was found by one of the other crews after failing to respond to radio calls.

Pilot seriously injured in crash

Pilot Sebastian Robinson was seriously injured and flown to Maningrida, before being transferred to hospital in Darwin.

A preliminary ATSB analysis of the site indicated the accident happened when the helicopter’s main rotor blade struck and cut through a tree trunk multiple times before the aircraft hit the ground.

Initial assessments indicated the engine had stopped before the helicopter hit the ground.

An examination found there were no defects likely to cause the engine to stop, and no visible damage to the tail rotor blades and drive system.

It was understood the chopper was certified by independent aviation experts as safe to operate just weeks before the crash.

Outback Wrangler is an adventure TV series filmed in remote Top End locations that airs in more than 90 countries.

The show chronicles the capture and transport of dangerous animals that pose a threat to people, including crocodiles and buffalo.

Two other men have previously been charged over the February crash.


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