David Henderson pleads guilty to flight charge

October 18, 2021: David Henderson pleads guilty to a charge related to the flight in which famous footballer Emiliano Sala died.

David Henderson admitted that he attempted to discharge a passenger without valid permission. The plane carrying Sala, aged 28 and pilot David Ibbotson had crashed into the English Channel in January 2019.

Henderson, aged 66, will now go on trial on a separate charge, having been accused of threatening the safety of an aircraft. He entered the guilty plea, when he appeared before Mr Justice Foxton, the high court Judge, at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday.

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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had brought the charges against David Henderson. He is supposed to have arranged the flight carrying Sala and  Mr Ibbotson, then aged 59.

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was carrying the striker, who was related to a multimillion pound transfer deal, from Nantes in France to Cardiff where he signed for the Bluebirds.

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Sala’s body was retrieved from the seabed the previous month, but body of Mr Ibbotson and the plane’s remains have not be retrieved. At a hearing in October 2020, the court listened to how Mr Ibbotson’s licence to fly an aircraft had already 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.

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Jury investigation into his death is postponed until after Henderson’s trial and is scheduled for 14 February 2022. Henderson’s trial is likely to last for 10 days.

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