Emiliano Sala: Businessman who arranged fatal flight jailed

Krishan Davis
David Henderson has been jailed
David Henderson has been jailed / GEOFF CADDICK/GettyImages

The businessman who arranged the illegal flight that carried footballer Emiliano Sala to his death has been jailed for 18 months.

Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were killed when the single-engine aircraft crashed into the English Channel in January 2019. The 28-year-old striker was on his way to be presented by new club Cardiff City, having signed from French side Nantes

67-year-old David Henderson, who organised the flight with football agent Willie McKay, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday for endangering the safety of an aircraft after being convicted by a majority verdict at Cardiff Crown Court in October.

Former RAF officer Henderson had asked Mr Ibbotson to fly the plane as he was away on holiday in Paris, despite the latter not having a commercial pilot's licence or a qualification to fly at night, and the fact his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.

Henderson texted a number of people after hearing news of the crash, telling them not to speak and warning them it would "open a can of worms". He told the court he was fearful of an investigation into his business.

Henderson's legal team is considering an appeal.

"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, a lawyer representing the Sala family.

"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."

Tributes Are Made To Cardiff City's Emiliano Sala
The football world mourned Sala's death / Matthew Horwood/GettyImages

An inquest is due to begin in February, and the family are hoping for further answers there.

"This should ensure that the inquest can fulfil its function of fully and fearlessly examining the evidence so that all the facts emerge," Machover continued.

"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."