Sandi Mellon charged after husband Neil Mellon was arrested for alleged involvement in the Outback Wrangler crash

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 departed from Noonamah on a crocodile egg collection campaign in West Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, about 500km from Darwin. Each chopper has a pilot and an egg collector. You fly 90 minutes to a barrel station in the bush near Mount Borradaile.

8.30 a.m Helicopters fly from the keg station to the King River assembly point, 20 minutes away. Mr Wilson reportedly shared a picture of the fuel gauge, showing it was almost full, to their shared WhatsApp group.

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

10:14 a.m The other two crew realize they haven’t heard from Robinson and Wilson, and chief helicopter pilot – and director of Remote Helicopters Australia – Michael Burbridge, 44, goes in search of them.

10:36 a.m 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 injured with spinal injuries on the ground next to the plane. Your helicopter has collided with trees and terrain. The second helicopter takes off again briefly to make radio contact and sound the alarm.

Outback wrangler Matt Wright is said to be flying to the scene with off-duty police sergeant Neil Mellon and Darwin innkeeper and crocodile farmer Mick Burns. Mr Burns has not been charged with any criminal offences.

12.30 p.m A CareFlight helicopter arrives at the scene and takes the pilot to Maningrida, where he was flown to Darwin.

19 APRIL 2022: The Air Transport Safety Bureau is releasing its initial findings from the crash, with the full report expected in the first quarter of 2023. It notes that the helicopter’s engine stopped before it hit the ground. Only 250ml of fuel was in the fuel bladders, both of which were intact, but the report notes that fuel may have been dumped into a nearby stream as the fuel system was damaged in the accident. There were no other obvious signs of mechanical failure and no fire at the scene.

25 AUGUST 2022: Father of three, Neil Mellon, 47, is arrested shortly after arriving for work at Darwin Police Station. Police search his home and allegedly find illegal wildlife, firecrackers and firearms.

26 AUGUST 2022: Mellon faces 31 felonies, including attempting to pervert legal process, stealing and unlawfully accessing data. His charges also relate to weapons, firearms and wildlife offenses and the alleged destruction of evidence related to an investigation into a major crash.

Later that same day, his wife Sandi, also an NT police officer on duty, posted allegations unrelated to the crash on Facebook about a former close friend that were later deleted.

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

SEPTEMBER 2022: Outback wrangler and father of four Matt Wright, 43, is moving from Darwin to Queensland’s Gold Coast with his pregnant wife Kaia.

20 SEPTEMBER 2022: Helicopter pilot Michael Burbridge – who was first at the scene of the tragedy – is being charged in connection with the crash. He is accused of evidence destruction, conspiracy and attempted legal transactions and false testimony.

NOVEMBER 28, 2022: NT Police are issuing an arrest warrant for Wright and he is due to report to Darwin Police Station within 48 hours to face at least six serious charges related to the crash. They reference his actions before and after the crash and claim he tampered with evidence.

NOVEMBER 29, 2022: Wright checks in with his wife and their newborn daughter Dusty for an 8.15am flight from Sydney to Darwin. He will be charged in the afternoon with a range of offenses related to the helicopter crash.

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

Wright is accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroying evidence, fabricating evidence, entering a building unlawfully, entering a home unlawfully, making a false statement and providing witnesses in criminal investigations or trials through threats/retaliation disturb. Sandi Mellon charged after husband Neil Mellon was arrested for alleged involvement in the Outback Wrangler crash

Bradford Betz

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