Emiliano Sala: A businessman who organized a fatal flight for a footballer found guilty of endangering the safety of a plane

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Emiliano Sala: A businessman who organized a fatal flight for a footballer found guilty of endangering the safety of a plane


David Henderson, the businessman who organized the flight that crashed, killing footballer Emiliano Sala, has been found guilty by Cardiff Crown Court of endangering the safety of a plane.

Henderson, 67, was convicted by a majority verdict of 10-2.

The plane carrying 28 years Salon crashed in the English Channel on the evening of January 21, 2019, killing forward and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.

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Emiliano Sala’s plane crashed on his way to Wales

Just moments after discovering the plane had crashed, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to stay silent – warning them he would “open a box of worms.”

Henderson had arranged the robbery with football agent William ‘Willie’ McKay.

He had asked Mr. Ibbotson to fly the plane while he was on vacation in Paris with his wife.

Mr. Ibbotson, who flew regularly for him, did not hold a commercial pilot license, a qualification to fly at night, and his qualification to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.

The father of three and a former RAF officer admitted in court that he feared an investigation into his business relationship.

He faces maximum penalties of five years imprisonment for endangering the aircraft and two years for lower costs to attempt to unload a passenger without valid authorization or authorization.

Sala’s family welcomed the sentencing but said they still had unanswered questions about his death. An investigation is due to start in February of next year.

Daniel Machover, of the law firm Hickman & Rose, said: “David Henderson’s actions are only one piece of the puzzle as to how the plane David Ibbotson was illegally piloting crashed at sea on January 21, 2019.

“We still do not know the key information on the aircraft’s maintenance history and all the factors behind the carbon monoxide poisoning revealed in August 2019 by the AAIB.

“The answers to these questions can only be properly established during Emiliano’s investigation. “

“The Sala family fervently hope that everyone involved in the investigation will disclose all information without further delay,” he added.

“Only if this happens will Emiliano’s family finally know the truth about this tragedy and learn all the lessons, so that no family experiences a similar preventable death.” “

Henderson did not have the Foreign Carrier Permit (FCP) required to carry passengers on the US plane, nor an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), which he was required to obtain.

Fay Keely, who owned the plane, had told Henderson not to allow Mr. Ibbotson to fly it, after being contacted by the Civil Aviation Authority over two airspace violations he he had committed.

However, Henderson continued to allow him to fly, with prosecutor Martin Goudie QC telling the court he had created a culture of air navigation rule violations with the pilots he hired.

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View looking at the windshield and cockpit area

He was accused of running a “cowboy outfit” and not keeping basic information about his pilots.

But Stephen Spence QC, defending, said his client had not acted recklessly and his actions were “purely a problem of paperwork”.

He said his client knew Mr. Ibbotson, who had flown for decades and had accumulated around 3,500 flight miles, was an experienced pilot.

He told the court that the only difference between a business license and the private license held by Mr Ibbotson was whether you could carry passengers for money or not, and not based on your ability.

Henderson has been released on bail and will return for sentencing on November 12.

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Plane track in the vicinity of Guernsey

Kate Staples, General Counsel for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends who were affected by this accident in January 2019.

“Aviation safety depends on the integrity of everyone involved in the industry. Illegal and dangerous activities such as Mr Henderson’s are unacceptable and the UK Civil Aviation Authority will always seek to prosecute illegal activities. ”

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