Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright’s bodyguards have scuffled with cameramen and waiting media at Darwin Airport as the TV star landed in the Northern Territory to hand himself into police.
His wife Kaia ran alongside reporters and filmed the wild commotion on her own phone as the flanks of supporters tried to protect him from questions and cameras.
Mr Wright refused to answer as he raced into the back of a white Land Rover after his early morning flight from Sydney touched down in Darwin.
‘There was quite a bit of pushing and shoving going on,’ said one reporter.
Several large men, wearing baseballs caps, could be heard yelling ‘Come on, let’s go!’ as they barged their way through the media pack with Wright at the centre.
Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright’s bodyguards have scuffled with cameramen and waiting media at Darwin Airport as the TV star landed in the Northern Territory to hand himself into police
Wright flew back after a warrant for his arrest was issued over a string of charges over a helicopter crash that killed one of his best mates earlier this year.
Daily Mail Australia photographed The Outback Wrangler star loading his luggage into an overhead compartment in the business class section of Qantas Flight 840 from Sydney on Tuesday morning.
The warrant for Wright’s arrest was issued on Monday, following an extensive police investigation into the crash that killed his co-star Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson, 34, in February.
Wright was given a 48-hour deadline to present to a Northern Territory police station.
Mr Wilson died when a chopper he was travelling in crashed at Arnhem land. A second chopper carrying three men, including Wright, 43, immediately flew to the scene.
It’s alleged the trio interfered with evidence at the crash site in an attempt to perverse the course of justice.
Reality television personality Matt Wright was spotted boarding a flight to Darwin on Tuesday morning
Matt Wright was seen loading his luggage into an overhead compartment in the business class section of Qantas Flight 840
Wright was surrounded by television cameras as he walked through the Sydney Airport terminal accompanied by his wife Kaia, who was holding their newborn baby daughter
Wright was seen arriving at Sydney Airport early Tuesday morning accompanied by his wife Kaia, who was holding their 10-day-old daughter Dusty Faith.
He ignored questions when approached by several journalists as he moved swiftly through the terminal before boarding the plane.
Flight QF840 left Sydney at 8.15 am and is expected to land in Darwin shortly before 11.30am.
Wright will be charged with at least six offences, including perverting the course of justice, destruction of evidence, fabricating evidence, interfering with witnesses, unlawful entry and making a false statement.
He has since strenuously denied any wrongdoing over what he described as a tragic accident.
Matt Wright was spotted at Sydney Airport on Tuesday morning, a day after NT Police issued an arrest warrant
Mr Wilson was collecting crocodile eggs in a remote area of west Arnhem Land 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 40m from the main wreckage at the King River crash site, a preliminary Air Transport Safety Bureau report revealed in April.
The 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.
Pilot Sebastian Robinson was seriously injured in the crash and is still recovering from spinal injuries.
The R44 Raven II registered VH-IDW Mr Robinson was flying had been operated by Mr Wright’s company Helibrook.
Police will allege Mr Wright tampered with evidence when he rushed to the crash site in another helicopter.
It’s understood minutes before the crash that claimed his life, Mr Wilson took a photo of the fuel gauge showing the chopper’s almost full tank, which he then shared in a WhatsApp group chat.
Mr Wilson’s mobile phone then allegedly went missing from the crash site, The Australian reported.
The Outback Wrangler star will be charged over the helicopter crash that killed his close mate and co-star Chris “Willow’ Wilson (pictured)
Matt Wright (right) had little to say and refused to answer reporters questions as he and his wife (pictured holding their baby daughter) made their way through the airport terminal
Matt Wright was confronted by media crews as he made his way through the airport terminal
The photo of the fuel gauge contradicts the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report, which revealed that investigators only drained about 250ml of blue fuel from the main tank’s bladder after the crash despite the two fuel bladder tanks still being intact.
Police will also allege Wright regularly disconnected the hours meter in the VH-IDW and other helicopters used by his company and ordered other staff to do the same.
An hours metre is a device used in aviation to measure the time an aircraft is in use.
Police will also allege Mr Wright visited Mr Robinson in the hospital twice after the crash to try to get him to falsify records relating to the helicopter involved in the crash and to delete evidence from his mobile phone.
Sources told the publication Mr Wright was not on the egg collection mission that ended tragically because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19.
It’s understood photos provided to police by tourists who had travelled in the helicopter revealed that the chopper had been in use on days when information provided to CASA indicated it had not been flying.
It’s understood police have spent at least six months investigating Mr Wright’s actions before and after the fatal crash.
Helicopter pilot Michael Burbidge and Mr Mellon were previously charged with various offences in relation to the crash.
Matt Wright (pictured with wife Kaia) is expected to present himself to a Darwin police station on Tuesday
OUTBACK WRANGLER TIMELINE
FEBRUARY 28, 2022
7:03am Pilot Seb Robinson and egg collector Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson are on one of three Robinson R44 helicopters which set off from Noonamah on a crocodile egg collection operation on West Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, about 500km from Darwin. Each chopper has one pilot and one egg collector. They fly for 90 minutes to a drum refuelling site in the bush near Mount Borradaile.
8.30am Choppers fly from drum refuelling area to the King River staging area, 20 minutes away. Mr Wilson allegedly shares a picture of the fuel gauge showing it was almost full to their shared WhatsApp group.
Around 9am Choppers split up to go to their various egg collection areas. Two head 12km north-east and collected eggs from nine nests between 0911 and 1014.
10.14am The other two crews realise they’ve not heard from Robinson and Wilson and chief helicopter pilot – and director of Remote Helicopters Australia – Michael Burbridge, 44, goes to look for them.
10.36am It finds the wreckage of their helicopter, 30km south of South Goulburn Island. Mr Wilson, 34, is dead 40m from the wreckage and Mr Robinson, 28, is seriously hurt with spinal injuries on the ground next to the aircraft. Their chopper has collided with trees and terrain. The second chopper briefly takes off again to make radio contact and raise the alarm.
Outback Wrangler Matt Wright allegedly flies to the crash scene with off-duty police sergeant Neil Mellon and Darwin publican and crocodile farmer Mick Burns. Mr Burns has not been charged with any offences.
12.30pm A CareFlight helicopter arrives at the scene and airlifts the pilot to Maningrida, where he was transferred by plane to Darwin.
APRIL 19, 2022: The Air Transport Safety Bureau release their initial findings into the crash, with the full report expected in the first quarter of 2023. It finds the helicopter’s engine stopped prior to impacting the ground. Just 250ml of fuel was in the fuel bladders which were both intact, but the report notes fuel may have drained into a nearby creek as the fuel system was damaged in the crash. There were no other obvious signs of mechanical failure and no fire at the scene.
AUGUST 25, 2022: Father of three Neil Mellon, 47, is arrested shortly after he arrives for work at Darwin police station. Police raid his home and allegedly find illegal wildlife, fireworks and firearms.
AUGUST 26, 2022: Mellon is charged with 31 offences, including attempting to pervert the course of justice and stealing and unlawfully accessing data. His charges also relate to weapons, firearms and wildlife offences, as well as alleged destruction of evidence in relation to a major crash investigation.
Later the same day, his wife Sandi, also a serving NT police officer, posts accusations on Facebook, unrelated to the crash, about a former close female friend which were later deleted.
Mellon is understood to have since resigned from the police after 27 years’ service.
SEPTEMBER, 2022: Outback Wrangler and father of four Matt Wright, 43, relocates with his pregnant wife Kaia from Darwin to the Gold Coast in Queensland.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2022: Helicopter pilot Michael Burbridge – who was first on the scene of the tragedy – is charged in connection with the crash. He is accused of destroying evidence, conspiracy and attempting to pervert the course of justice, and providing a false statement.
NOVEMBER 28, 2022: NT Police issue an arrest warrant for Wright and he’s told to present himself at Darwin police station within 48 hours to face at least six serious charges concerning the crash. They relate to his actions before and after the crash and allege he tampered with evidence.
NOVEMBER 29, 2022: Wright checks in for an 8.15am flight from Sydney to Darwin with his wife and their newborn daughter Dusty.
A spokesman for Mr Wright told Daily Mail Australia on Monday the star strenuously denies any wrongdoing over what he described as a tragic accident.
‘What happened was a tragic accident that took the life of a close mate,’ the spokesman 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.
‘Matt will not be making any further statement.
The warrant comes days after Wright’s wife Kaia welcomed the birth of their second child, a daughter Dusty Faith on November 18.
The couple had recently relocated from the Northern Territory to the Gold Coast.
Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson (pictured) died in February when the helicopter he was hanging from collided with trees and crashed in west Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory
Matt Wright will be charged following an extensive police investigation in relation to the crash (pictured) that killed his co-star Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson
Mr Wright recently made his first public comments about the fatal crash and how he still struggles to speak about the death of his close mate.
‘It’s still pretty fresh,’ Wright told express.co.uk. ‘Maybe in time, you know… I’ll explain.’
The crocodile wrangler claimed his friends were ‘out doing another job with another pilot’.
‘Unfortunately, the machine went down and Willow was killed in the process. So, it’s taken a horrible toll this year.’
A preliminary Australian Transport Safety Bureau analysis of the site earlier this year 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 prior to the helicopter hitting the ground.
An examination found no defects likely to cause the engine to stop and there was no visible damage to the tail rotor blades and drive system.
Matt Wright (left), pictured with wife Kaia and son Banjo has been ordered to present to a police station in Darwin by 9am Wednesday
It was also understood the chopper was certified by independent aviation experts as safe to operate just weeks before the crash.
The ATSB’s final report, due to be published at the end of the year, has been delayed.
The results of the report are expected to be released in the first quarter of next year while NT Police investigations are ongoing.
Wright became a household name more than a decade ago as the star of National Geographic Channel series Outback Wrangler, which has since been aired in almost 100 countries.
His new series Wild Croc Territory aired on Channel Nine earlier this year and has since been screened on Netflix with a second series planned for 2023.
Matt Wright (right) recently the death of Mr Wilson (centre) was ‘still pretty fresh’. The pair were cast members on the Outback Wrangler TV series with Jono Brown (left)