Jury out in trial of man who organised flight that killed footballer Sala

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David Henderson (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
David Henderson (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

The jury in the trial of a businessman accused over a plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala has been sent out to consider its verdict.

The small plane carrying 28-year-old Sala crashed into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on a stormy evening in January 2019, during a trip from his French club in Nantes to Cardiff City who had signed him in a multimillion-pound transfer deal.

The Argentinian striker and the pilot David Ibbotson 59, both died in the incident.

The aircraft operator, David Henderson, 67, arranged the flight with former football agent William “Willie” McKay but was unable to fly the plane himself because he was away with his wife in Paris.

Tributes at Cardiff City Stadium for Emiliano Sala (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Tributes at Cardiff City Stadium for Emiliano Sala (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Instead, he asked Mr Ibbotson, who regularly flew for him despite not holding a commercial pilot’s licence or a qualification to fly at night, and whose rating to fly the American aircraft, a single-engine Piper Malibu, had expired.

The jury heard how moments after he found out the plane had gone down, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to stay silent.

Henderson admitted in court he feared an investigation into his business arrangements.

He is on trial at Cardiff Crown Court accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft in a prosecution brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Henderson has already pleaded guilty to a separate offence of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

On Wednesday morning, Judge Mr Justice Foxton sent the jury to begin its deliberations.

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