Two years after the death of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in a plane crash, a man David Henderson has pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the flight in which the player was in before the crash. David Henderson admitted attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.
The plane carried 28-year-old Emiliano Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson and crashed into the English Channel in January 2019. 66-year-old Henderson of the East Riding of Yorkshire will now go on trial on a separate charge, accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft.
David Henderson Pleads Guilty to Emiliano Sala’s Death
He entered the guilty plea, as he appeared before High Court judge Mr Justice Foxton at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday. The charges have been brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and he is alleged to have arranged the flight carrying Sala and a 59-year-old pilot.
The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft brought Emiliano Sala, who was involved in a multimillion-pound transfer deal, from Nantes in France to Cardiff. The body of Sala was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane’s wreckage, was recovered.
At a hearing in October 2020, the court heard how Mr Ibbotson’s licence to fly an aircraft commercially had expired in November 2018. The Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) reported at the start of the year that the plane had been leaking carbon monoxide during the flight, and a final manoeuvre by Mr Ibbotson to pull up the plane had caused it to break up mid-air.
A jury inquest into the death of the player was postponed until after Henderson’s trial and is scheduled for 14 February 2022. David Henderson’s trial is expected to last for at least ten days.