Outback Wrangler star may ground crash widow's lawsuit

Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright could pause a civil lawsuit brought over a helicopter crash that killed his co-star as he faces criminal charges over the tragedy.

Chris Wilson plunged to his death in a remote area of the Northern Territory in February 2022 while dangling from a helicopter owned by Wright to collect crocodile eggs.

His widow Danielle Wilson filed Federal Court proceedings in December against Wright's company Helibrook as well as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority over the crash.

Justice Elizabeth Raper on Wednesday allowed Ms Wilson to join Wright to the lawsuit and amend her pleadings to include claims against him.

She is seeking damages for personal injury as well as from her husband's loss of income after the crash.

Wright is alleged to have had non-delegable duties as the employer of Mr Wilson and as a person vicariously liable for Sebastian Robinson who was piloting the craft when it plummeted to the ground.

Justice Raper heard Wright and Helibrook were considering whether to file a stay application, effectively putting the civil lawsuit on ice, while the criminal case was ongoing.

Wright's lawyer Darryn Kelly told the court his clients did not want to file a defence or have to provide documents in the civil lawsuit out of fear of self-incrimination before the upcoming criminal proceedings.

Barrister David Lloyd SC, representing Ms Wilson, was happy for Wright and Helibrook to hold off filing a defence for the time being.

CASA's barrister Peter Ward said his client should also not have to file a defence, pointing out anything the organisation had to say could prejudice the criminal case against Wright.

Justice Raper heard Helibrook's insurer QBE and broker Wild Harvest Northern Territory could be joined into the lawsuit if they did not voluntarily assist with mediation talks.

Mr Robinson could also be dragged into the case, the judge was told.

No findings of wrongdoing have been made against him.

Ms Wilson will have to provide evidence about what her actual claimed financial loss was before the parties sit down together at settlement talks.

NT WorkSafe charged Wright and Helibrook with “reckless conduct for operating unsafe aircraft” in February.

The workplace safety watchdog said it had found "sufficient evidence"  Wright made up the number of flight hours his aircraft had done and put his passengers and pilots at risk.

Helibrook Pty Ltd and Wright have each been charged with two counts of reckless conduct.

Separately, Wright will go to trial in the NT Supreme Court over one count of perverting the course of justice.

Six further charges, including tampering with evidence and threatening Mr Robinson, are yet to be heard although Wright denies the allegations.

Ms Wilson's civil case will next come before the Federal Court on May 7.

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