Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright has been hit with fresh charges following a fatal helicopter crash which killed his friend Chris “Willow” Wilson in February 2022.
NT WorkSafe announced on Thursday it had charged Mr Wright and his company Helibrook with two counts each of “reckless conduct” for “failing in (their) duties” under the Work Health and Safety Act.
ABC reports the safety watchdog alleged the company and director, Matt Wright, failed to “maintain safe aircraft and allow(ed) the aircraft to be operated when unsafe”.
Mr Wilson was suspended from a Robinson R44 helicopter collecting crocodile eggs when it crashed in February 2022, also seriously injuring pilot Sebastian Robinson.
NT WorkSafe said there was “insufficient evidence” to establish a case in relation to the crash. But it said it had found “sufficient evidence to allege Helibrook Pty Ltd and Mr Wright 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”.
Mr Wright and Helibrook are accused of interfering with the Hobbs meters — which records the time an aircraft is in use — as well as “not accurately recording flight times” in the aircraft’s maintenance release.
The matter is listed to be heard in the Darwin Local Court later this month.
If found guilty, Helibrook Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of $6 million, while Wright faces a maximum of $1.2 million, five years’ imprisonment, or both.
Wright has already has been committed to stand trial on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice and faces a string of other charges, including fabricating and destroying evidence, which will be heard in the Darwin Local Court in June next year.
Both Matt Wright and Chris “Willow” Wilson starred in the National Geographic television series Outback Wrangler, which has also screened on 9GO!, and Netflix show Wild Croc Territory.