Matt Wright hit with fresh charges over fatal crash
Neve Brissenden |
Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright and his aviation company have been hit with a slew of new charges over a fatal chopper crash that killed his co-star.
Chris Wilson plunged to his death in a remote area of the Northern Territory in February 2022 while attached to a helicopter owned by Wright and being flown by pilot Sebastian Robinson.
Mr Robinson survived but was critically injured in the crash.
The NT’s workplace safety watchdog charged the celebrity croc-wrangler and his aviation company Helibrook with “reckless conduct for operating unsafe aircraft” on Thursday.
The watchdog said while a police investigation is yet to determine the cause of the crash, it found “sufficient evidence” that Wright made up the number of flight hours his aircraft had done, and put his passengers and pilots at risk.
“He engaged in conduct intended to falsify the actual number of flight hours accrued by the aircraft in the Helibrook fleet over an extended period of time,” NT WorkSafe said in a statement.
“This … impacted the regular inspection and replacement of the aircraft’s life-limited components … therefore placing at risk the health and safety of the pilots and passengers.”
Helibrook Pty Ltd and Wright have each been charged with two counts of reckless conduct.
The WorkSafe charges are the latest of Wright’s latest legal battles, as he prepares to fight criminal and civil charges this year.
Wright and his pilot Michael Burbidge were allegedly first on the scene of the fatal crash in 2022, accompanied by former senior NT police officer Neil Mellon.
The three men were all later charged with perverting the course of justice and destroying evidence.
Wright will go to trial in the NT Supreme Court on one count of perverting the course of justice.
Another six charges, which include tampering with evidence and threatening pilot Mr Robinson, are yet to be heard though Wright denies any allegations of wrongdoing.
He is also facing a civil case, filed by Mr Wilson’s widow Danielle Wilson.
Ms Wilson is suing Wright and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for alleged “wrongful acts or omissions” that caused or contributed to her husband’s death, Federal Court documents provided to AAP have revealed.
She is seeking costs, damages, interest, interest on costs, and “such other order as the court sees fit” for the psychological harm caused by the conduct.AAP