A famous Australian crocodile wrangler has been charged over a helicopter crash that killed his friend and reality television co-star.
Known as the Outback Wrangler, Matt Wright is accused of perverting the course of justice, destroying and fabricating evidence, interfering with witnesses and unlawful entry.
He is the third person charged over the crash which killed Chris “Willow” Wilson in February. Mr Wright denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Wilson, 34, was collecting crocodile eggs while suspended from the helicopter in a sling when the crash happened in a remote part of the Northern Territory (NT). He died and the pilot was seriously injured.
Mr Wright was not on board but was among the first on the scene in Arnhem Land, about 500km (310 miles) east of Darwin.
He is best known globally as the star of National Geographic’s Outback Wrangler and Netflix’s Wild Croc Territory reality shows. The 43-year-old also owns several local tourism businesses and has been a tourism ambassador for Australia.
After a court granted Mr Wright bail on Wednesday, his lawyer read a statement to the media, saying his client maintained his innocence.
“Matt Wright strenuously denies these charges and will be defending them,” he said.
“He is naturally disappointed that the charges have been laid as a result of what was a tragic accident that took the life of Matt’s closest friend Chris Wilson.” The case will return to court in January.
Netflix is under pressure from Mr Wilson’s widow to cancel Mr Wright’s show, The Australian newspaper has reported, but the company has declined to comment.
A former high-ranking police officer and another helicopter pilot have been charged with similar offences over the crash.