British aviation businessman David Henderson, who organized the private flight from Nantes to Cardiff resulting in the death of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of “endangering the safety of the aircraft.”
A Cardiff Court found Henderson guilty by ten votes to two against after he himself pleaded guilty of organizing the flight without the necessary permits, and the sentence was imposed Friday.
Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died on January 21, 2019 when a single-engine Piper Malibu crashed in the English Channel en-route to Cardiff from Nantes. Sala had been transferred to the Welsh club for around 20 million euros.
Fay Keely, owner of the aircraft, had requested six months before the accident that Ibbotson no longer flew it after having been found in violation of aviation norms on two occasions. But when asked to arrange the flight, Henderson, who was in Parfis at the time, entrusted Ibbotson with the job despite his flying record and the lack of a proper license.
Henderson insisted he had discussed hiring Ibbotson for the job over the phone with Keely but she denied having any recollection of that elleged event.
The woman participated last Wednesday in the trial of David Henderson, who pleaded guilty to organizing the Sala flight without having the necessary permits, but who denied the charges of having acted negligently and having endangered the plane. I made it clear that he shouldn't fly the aircraft, Keely told the jury in Cardiff.
According to Keely, she had bought the plane, on the advice of Henderson in 2015, and he was left in charge of managing its operations, which included the hiring of pilots.
On July 6, 2018, Keely sent an email to Henderson warning that Ibbotson should not fly the aircraft anymore because authorities had notified him of two infractions when he was flying. “I am not very confident how he treats the aircraft. I think the best thing would be if he didn't fly it again,” Keely had written. Ibbotson did not have a commercial pilot's license and his clearance to fly the aircraft had expired.
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