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Emiliano Sala: Businessman Who Organised Footballer’s Flight Found Guilty

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David Henderson, the businessman who was in charge of organising the flight that crashed, killing footballer Emiliano Sala, has been found guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

The 67-year-old businessman was accused of failing to follow safety regulations, which resulted in the death of both Mr Sala, 28, and pilot of the plane David Ibbotson when their plane crashed on 21 January 2019 into the English Channel.

The flight left Nantes and was heading to Cardiff, where Mr Sala played for the Cardiff City team. The Argentine footballer had just completed a £15m move to Cardiff City club from Nantes.

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Mr Sala’s body was recovered a month after the crash, meanwhile the body of piolet Mr Ibbotson, is yet to be found.

Mr Henderson denied having acted in a reckless or a negligent manner which would have been likely to endanger the plane the two men were travelling in. However, a jury found him guilty of the charge.


A trial which took place Cardiff Crown Court previously heard that the Piper Malibu N264DB plane chosen to carry Mr Sala was not authorised to carry commercial passengers.

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Mr Henderson was also accused of having employed Mr Ibbotson as the pilot, whilst being aware that he did not have a commercial pilot’s licence. As well as this, Mr Ibbotson’s rating to fly the N264DB plane had expired and he was not qualified to fly at night.

Prosecutor Martin Goudie QC previously told the court that Mr Henderson had breached numerous regulations as he attempted to transport Mr Sala to Cardiff. Mr Goudie added that the businessman ran an “incompetent, undocumented, risk creating and dishonest” organisation.

He explained: “Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to conduct these flights. Breach after breach after breach, all known about and encouraged by Mr Henderson. The approach to them is one of risk taking, not risk assessment.”

Defence barrister Stephen Spence claimed however that his client’s transgressions were due to a “paperwork issue.” He also suggested that although the piolet did not have a commercial licence, it did not have an effect on whether or not he was able to fly the plane.

Mr Henderson himself went on to add that it is “always the pilot to ensure the safety of a flight.”

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It was also revealed that just moment after discovering that the plane had gone down, Mr Henderson texted various people telling them to stay silent and warning that it would “open a can of worms”, the jury was told.

Photo Credit: Getty

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