A man has admitted a charge relating to the theft in which Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala was killed when the plane he was traveling in crashed at sea off the Channel Islands on his way to the UK United from France.
David Henderson, 67, helped organize the flight that took Sala, 28, from Nantes to Cardiff in January 2019.
Appearing in Cardiff Crown Court, Henderson, of Hotham, East Riding of Yorkshire, admitted to attempting to “unload a passenger” without “the required permission or permission”.
The details of the charge are that on January 21, 2019, as an operator of an aircraft, he attempted to ‘unload’ Sala’s aircraft in Cardiff. The details added that the plane was not registered in the UK. The offense is contrary to the articles of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 and the annexes of the Air Navigation Ordinance 2016.
Henderson denies a second charge, that he acted in a reckless or negligent manner likely to endanger the aircraft contrary to the rules set out in the Air Navigation Ordinance 2016. A jury is to hear a trial on this charge this week.
The charge (s) is (are) that on January 18 and 19, Henderson allegedly organized a flight to transport Sala when the flight did not have the required clearance or permission; and / or the pilot, David Ibbotson did not have a commercial pilot license; and / or Ibbotson’s qualification to fly the type of aircraft involved had expired; and / or bad weather was expected and he was not competent to fly in such conditions.
The single-engine Piper Malibu plane was flying Sala from Nantes to then-Premier League club Cardiff City under a multi-million transfer deal when it crashed.
Sala’s body was found in the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the wreckage of the plane were found.
There has been a huge wave of grief in the Welsh capital over Sala’s death with thousands of fans paying their respects outside Cardiff City Stadium.
A jury inquiry into the crash has been postponed after Henderson’s trial and is scheduled for February 2022.
Lawyer Daniel Machover, who represents Sala’s family, said they would not attend the trial in person. Sala’s family have repeatedly called for the investigation to take place as quickly as possible so that they can learn what happened to the footballer.
They conducted an independent search for Sala’s body funded by footballers and other supporters and expressed concern that the wreckage of the plane was not recovered.
A High Court judge, Judge Foxton, is in charge of the criminal proceedings, which are scheduled to last two weeks. A jury of seven men and five women was sworn in. Foxton told them, “People may be curious about this matter, but you shouldn’t let them tell you about it.
Henderson, who is on bail, arrived for the hearing with his legal team in blue suits and ties.
After playing junior football in Argentina and after a short stint in the regional leagues in Portugal, Sala started his professional career in France with Bordeaux, making his professional debut in February 2012. He moved to Nantes, where his good form took hold. led to Cardiff’s candidacy for him.