Matt Wright said he flew with family in same helicopter that crashed and killed friend days later

FEBRUARY 28, 2022

7:03 a.m. Pilot Seb Robinson and egg collector Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson are in one of three Robinson R44 helicopters that left Noonamah on a crocodile egg collection operation in West Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, some 500 km from Darwin. Each helicopter has a pilot and an egg collector. They fly for 90 minutes to a drum refueling site in the bush near Mount Borradaile.

8:30 a.m. Helicopters fly from the drum refueling area to the King River staging area, 20 minutes away. Mr Wilson allegedly shares a picture of the fuel gauge showing that he was almost full on his shared WhatsApp group.

Around 9 a.m. The helicopters split up to go to their various egg collection areas. Two headed 12 km northeast and collected eggs from nine nests between 09:11 and 10:14.

10:14 The other two crews realize they haven’t heard from Robinson and Wilson and 44-year-old Chief Helicopter Pilot, and Director of Remote Helicopters Australia, Michael Burbridge goes looking for them.

10:36 Find the wreckage of his helicopter, 30 km south of South Goulburn Island. Mr Wilson, 34, is dead 40m from the wreckage and Mr Robinson, 28, is seriously injured with spinal injuries on the ground next to the aircraft. His helicopter has collided with trees and terrain. The second helicopter takes off again briefly to make radio contact and raise the alarm.

Outback Wrangler Matt Wright allegedly flies to the scene of the accident with off-duty police sergeant Neil Mellon and Darwin publican and crocodile farmer Mick Burns. Burns has not been charged with any crime.

12:30 p.m. A CareFlight helicopter arrives at the scene and transports the pilot to Maningrida, where he was flown to Darwin.

APRIL 19, 2022: The Office of Air Transport Safety publishes its initial findings on the accident, with the full report expected in the first quarter of 2023. It finds that the helicopter’s engine stopped before it hit the ground. There was only 250ml of fuel in the fuel bladders which were intact, but the report notes that the fuel may have drained into a nearby stream as the fuel system was damaged in the accident. There were no other obvious signs of mechanical failure or fire at the scene.

AUGUST 25, 2022: Father of three children, Neil Mellon, 47, is arrested shortly after arriving for work at the 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 theft and illegal access to data. His charges also relate to weapons, firearms and wildlife crimes, as well as the alleged destruction of evidence in connection with a major accident investigation.

Later that day, his wife Sandi, also a serving NT police officer, posts allegations on Facebook, unrelated to the accident, about a former close friend that have since been deleted.

Mellon is understood to have resigned from the police force after 27 years of service.

SEPTEMBER 2022: Outback Wrangler and father of four Matt Wright, 43, moves with his pregnant wife Kaia from Darwin to the Gold Coast in Queensland.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022: Helicopter pilot Michael Burbridge, who was the first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy, is charged in connection with the crash. He is charged with destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and attempt to pervert the course of justice, and making a false statement.

NOVEMBER 28, 2022: NT police issue a warrant for Wright’s arrest and he is told to report to the Darwin police station within 48 hours to face at least six felony charges related to the crash. They relate to his actions before and after the accident and allege that he tampered with the evidence.

NOVEMBER 29, 2022: Wright checks in for an 8:15 a.m. flight from Sydney to Darwin with his wife and newborn daughter, Dusty. He is charged in the afternoon with a series of crimes in connection with the helicopter crash.

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

Wright is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroy evidence, fabricate evidence, trespassing, trespassing, making a false statement, and interfering with witnesses in a criminal investigation or judicial proceeding by threat/retaliation .

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