Outback Wrangler Matt Wright silenced Chris Willow Wilson funeral in NT’s Darwin Convention Centre


Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright holds a cowboy hat during the funeral service of his co-star Chris Mellon in March. He wasn’t mentioned in Dannielle Mellon’s eulogy

The widow of tragic Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson gave a heartbreaking eulogy at the funeral for her daredevil crocodile egg collector husband.

But she did not mention the name of Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright once at the packed funeral service at the Darwin Convention Centre in March. 

Wright, 43, faced a Northern Territory court on Wednesday charged in connection with the deadly helicopter crash which killed his TV show colleague Wilson, 34  in crocodile-infested swamps on the King River, 500km east of Darwin.

The Netflix star strenuously denies the charges, which include attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroying evidence and fabricating evidence.

At Wilson’s heartrending funeral on March 7, one week after the February 28 tragedy, Wright was not called to speak or give a eulogy. 

However, he stood on a stage with Wilson’s mates, each of them holding their cowboy hats, with one perched on top of his casket.

Dani Wilson (left), widow of tragic Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson, gave a heartbreaking eulogy at the funeral for her daredevil crocodile egg collector husband

Mr Wright served as a pallbearer as his mate's casket was carried from the Darwin Convention Centre in March

Mr Wright served as a pallbearer as his mate’s casket was carried from the Darwin Convention Centre in March

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting any guilt or wrongdoing is implied in Dani Wilson failing to mention Wright.

But although Wright’s role in Wilson’s life was passed over in the widow’s speech, Seb Robinson, 28 – the bush pilot who suffered severe spinal injuries in the crash –  was included throughout the service.

Wright had earlier carried one of Wilson’s children, wearing Wright’s hat, into the convention centre after the family arrived at the service by helicopter.

Chris 'Willow' Wilson's devastated wife Dani never spoke the name of Outback Wrangler TV star Matt Wright or mentioned the hit TV show during her raw emotional tribute

Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson’s devastated wife Dani never spoke the name of Outback Wrangler TV star Matt Wright or mentioned the hit TV show during her raw emotional tribute

Grief-stricken Ms Wilson had to be helped inside by two members of the cortege, who were wearing matching jeans, blue and white striped shirts and cowboy hats.

In a moving letter to her lost soulmate, the mother of two toddlers, Ted, 5, and Austin, 2, battled with her tears to capture the magic he brought their family.

‘One week ago today, our lives changed forever,’ Ms Wilson said, struggling for breath with every word. ‘It’s a day I never saw coming. To me and the boys, you were invincible. 

‘On that fateful day I lost my best friend. My big dreamer, my cheeky, loveable husband. He was simply my hero.

‘Honey I love you to the moon and back – and I just want you to come home.’

Ms Wilson said how proud the fearless adventurer was of his work collecting crocodile eggs, his farm and his ‘filming’, and how he had recently got his helicopter licence. 

‘He swaggered into our home wearing Aviators [sunglasses],’ she revealed. ‘He was so proud.

‘It was one of the proudest moments of both of our lives because it was such a lifelong dream.’

Matt Wright, 43, faced court on Wednesday charged in connection with the deadly helicopter crash which killed Wilson in croc-infested swamps on the King River, 500km east of Darwin

Matt Wright, 43, faced court on Wednesday charged in connection with the deadly helicopter crash which killed Wilson in croc-infested swamps on the King River, 500km east of Darwin

Helicopter pilot Seb Robinson suffered devastating spinal injuries in the chopper crash (pictured) that killed his mate Chris 'Willow' Wilson

Helicopter pilot Seb Robinson suffered devastating spinal injuries in the chopper crash (pictured) that killed his mate Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson 

She hailed his love of ‘flying a chopper, egg collecting, driving a digger, fishing and having a beer’ and said he was probably still doing that now.

She joked: ‘Only you won’t have to follow any damn laws.

‘He hated laws and regulations. Everyone knew that he wasn’t good at following them.’

She added: ‘The Wilson brothers and I have the most beautiful, warm and loving memories of our life together. z

‘The boys and I miss you so incredibly much but…those memories are forever.’

Ms Wilson has now begged Netflix to stop streaming Wright’s new series, Wild Croc Territory, until the star’s case has been dealt with in court. 

Pilot’s moving tribute to his mate who was slain in chopper crash

Helicopter pilot Seb Robinson

Helicopter pilot Seb Robinson

Helicopter pilot Seb Robinson suffered devastating spinal injuries in the chopper crash that killed his mate Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson.

But just days later, he sent a moving tribute to his friend’s funeral where he vowed to look after his mate’s family.

It was read out by Wilson’s father Robert ‘Bobcat’ Wilson and is the only time Mr Robinson has opened up publicly since the crash.

‘One of my most favourite memories is of my routine drop-ins to Willow homestead,’ he wrote.

‘I’d land the chopper in his backyard and [son] Teddy would always be the first person to run over and give Uncle Sebbie a big hug. 

‘[Wife] Dani, please know that this will never change and I will always drop in to see you and the boys.

‘To Willow, my mate – your passing has suspended reality for all of us. 

‘It was way too soon and completely unfair in every way. 

‘I know as humble as you are, you would be pleased to see how many people are here today to show their support and share a beer or two in your name. 

‘I promise that uncle Seb will take your boys out on adventures and show them the outdoors just like Dad did. 

‘For what it’s worth, I know that you loved and lived to the very fullest. 

‘Your smile and laugh I will never forget. Forever in my heart, forever 34.

‘If Chris was here today, he would say to all of you: Look out for Dani, Ted and Austin, my family, and each other – and keep on having a crack.’

Ms Wilson emailed CEO Reed Hastings on Tuesday to ask him to pull the show from their platform and shelve plans for a new season.

‘It pains me greatly that the series is still being shown despite the serious allegations that have been made against an individual involved in the series,’ she wrote.

‘To that end, I would request that Netflix immediately cease showing, promoting or advertising the series from its programming schedule until such a time that all court proceedings in relation to the tragic death of my husband have been finalised.’

Mrs Wilson said she had been ‘left in the dark’ as to whether the show will air a second season but requested her family be recognised in the footage.

‘I was not informed about any details surrounding the launch of the series on Netflix or any of the planned activities to promote it,’ she said.

‘Despite repeated requests that Chris and my sons Ted and Austin were acknowledged in some way in the series, it is my understanding that this has not occurred.

‘I do note that there is a short tribute to Chris which airs only in the final episode of the series.’

Netflix declined to comment.

Wright is due back in court on January 25. Former NT police sergeant Neil Mellon and helicopter pilot Michael Burbridge have also been charged in connection with the crash.

Under the condition’s of Wright’s bail, he is now banned from making contact with most of the other pallbearers, and Wilson’s widow.

Dani Wilson (pictured with husband Chris) said how proud the adventurer was of his work collecting crocodile eggs, his farm, his 'filming', and had recently got his helicopter licence

Dani Wilson (pictured with husband Chris) said how proud the adventurer was of his work collecting crocodile eggs, his farm, his ‘filming’, and had recently got his helicopter licence

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. He is charged in the afternoon with a string of offences in relation to the chopper crash.

NOVEMBER 30, 2022: Wright appears at Darwin Court on seven charges relating to the crash which he strenuously denies and is granted bail until the next court appearance on January 25, 2023. 

Wright is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroying evidence, fabricating evidence, unlawfully entering a building, unlawfully entering a dwelling, making a false declaration and interfering with witnesses in a criminal investigation or court process by making threats/reprisals.

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