Sala flight organiser jailed for 18 months

November 16 – Businessman David Henderson, who organised the flight that led to the deaths of footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, has been handed an 18-month jail sentence.

The plane carrying 28-year-old Sala crashed into the English Channel on the evening of 21 January 2019, killing the striker and pilot Ibbotson, 59. Cardiff Crown Court heard Henderson prioritised business by employing Ibbotson, who did not hold a commercial pilot’s licence, to pilot the striker from Cardiff to Nantes and back.

Henderson, a qualified pilot, was spending a romantic break with his wife in Paris but decided to hire Ibbotson to fly instead. Ibbotson was not qualified to fly at night and his flight rating for the N264DB flight had expired in November 2018.

After the crash, Henderson texted a number of people to cover up his involvement.

He wrote: “Malibu gone missing on way back from France. Don’t say a word to anyone.”

Later, he added: “Ibbo has crashed the Malibu and killed himself and VIP pax! Bloody disaster. There will be an inquiry.”

Daniel Machover, a lawyer for the Sala family, welcomed the conviction. He said: “The actions of David Henderson are only one piece in the puzzle of how the plane David Ibbotson was illegally flying came to crash into the sea on 21 January 2019.”

“We still do not know the key information about the maintenance history of the aircraft and all the factors behind the carbon monoxide poisoning revealed in August 2019.”

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