Flight organiser pleads guilty to one charge in trial over death of Emiliano Sala

RMC Sport report that 66-year-old David Henderson has pleaded guilty to an accusation linked to the flight on which Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala lost his life over the English Channel in 2019, on his way to finalising his move to Cardiff City.

The pilot is suspected of organising the flight in question, and was charged with acting in a reckless and negligent fashion, and has only pleaded guilty to the accusation of trying to organise a flight without valid authorisation, as his trial opened this Monday in Wales. As a result, the next two weeks dedicated to the trial will not concern this second charge.

The small private plane that fell over the Channel was found two weeks after the accident, 67 metres deep, with Sala’s body inside. The pilot, 59-year-old David Ibbotson, was never found. The UK authority on air accidents, the AAIB, concluded that the latter had attempted a manoeuvre at high speed to avoid the bad weather, which result in the fatal accident.

Investigators indicated that the flight had not taken place under the conditions that apply to commercial flights – the pilot did not have the necessary licence to fly the specific type of plane , a Piper PA-46 Malibu, nor to fly at night.

RMC add that the flight was chartered by David Henderson at the request of agent Willie McKay and his son Mark, the intermediary mandated by Nantes to carry out Sala’s transfer. Henderson had previously pleaded not guilty to charges relating to air navigation law in 2020, and was released under bail. Cardiff City indicated that a commercial flight was made available, but declined by Sala. The Argentine nevertheless expressed his worry at the state of the plane he would eventually board, in private messages to family members.

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