Businessman David Henderson, who organised fatal flight for footballer
Written by Gavin on 12th November 2021
The businessman who organised a flight that crashed, killing footballer Emiliano Sala, has been jailed for 18 months for endangering the safety of an aircraft.
David Henderson, 67, was convicted by a majority verdict of 10 to two at Cardiff Crown Court last month.
The plane carrying 28-year-old Sala crashed into the English Channel on the evening of 21 January 2019, killing the striker and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.
The player had been travelling to his new club, Cardiff City.
Henderson, a father-of-three and former RAF officer, had arranged the flight with football agent William ‘Willie’ McKay.
He had asked Mr Ibbotson to fly the plane as he was away on holiday in Paris with his wife.
Mr Ibbotson, who regularly flew for him, did not hold a commercial pilot’s licence, a qualification to fly at night, and his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.
Just moments after finding out the plane had gone down, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to stay silent – warning it would “open a can of worms”.
He said in court he feared an investigation into his business dealings.
He had previously admitted to a separate offense of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.
A lawyer representing the Sala family welcomed Henderson’s convictions in a statement and said they hope the Civil Aviation Authority will make sure that “illegal flights of this kind are stopped”.
“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,” said Daniel Machover.
“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.”
He said the answers to these questions can only be established at the inquest due to start in February next year, calling on Piper Aircraft and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch to fully disclose relevant material as soon as possible.
“This should ensure that the inquest can fulfil its function of fully and fearlessly examining the evidence so that all the facts emerge,” he said.
“Only if that happens will Emiliano’s family finally know the truth about this tragedy, enabling all the lessons to be learned, so that no family goes through a similar preventable death.”
Henderson’s legal team is considering an appeal.