L’Équipe report that during the trial of David Henderson, the man accused of organising the flight on which Emiliano Sala died in January of 2019 after falling over the English Channel, began on Monday in Wales, and is set to go on over two weeks.
RMC previously reported 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 to Cardiff.
Yesterday, a message sent by Henderson hours after he found out about the plane’s disappearance was read out during the trial, in front of the jury. Speaking to David Smith, the mechanic who regularly took on maintenance duties for the plane based in Retford, Henderson first said that the Malibu had disappeared “on its way back from France”. Twenty minutes later, he would follow up with another text: “Don’t say a word to anyone”. The messages were read out by Martin Goudie, in charge of the accusation on the part of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Henderson had delegated the task of flying the Argentine to Cardiff to David Ibbotson, as he had been in Paris with his wife over the weekend. He would then send a similar message to the owner of the plane, Fay Keely, indicating that the flight “had fallen into the Channel”. Over the next two hours, a series of text messages to different contacts would ensue – “Ibbo’s crashed the Malibu and killed himself with the VIP passenger. A f***ing disaster. There’s going to be an investigation”, “It’s a plane I manage, it opens a Pandora’s box.”, “I’d like everyone to avoid speaking to the CAA. Just “no comment””. Another message was then sent to Keely regarding legal advice for a potential investigation to come.
The prosecutor had indicated yesterday that Henderson had acted in a “reckless and negligent” manner by delegating the flight to a pilot who did not have the required qualification to undertake it, nor the required competence. Henderson’s lawyer has nevertheless argued that the responsibility for the security of the flight had remained with the pilot at the time, and that the flight should have been within the capacities of Mr. Ibbotson. This morning, the first witnesses were called in, including Keeley and Smith, with around fifteen in total expected over the course of the trial.