October 18, 2021 3.06 pm

Man pleads guilty to charge over Emiliano Sala plane crash death

He denies a separate charge of negligence

A 66-year-old man has pleaded guilty to one charge relating to the flight which cost Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson their lives in 2019.

David Henderson, of East Riding in Yorkshire, entered a guilty plea at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday, relating to the charge of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

This charge relates to an incident in January 2019, when footballer Emiliano Sala was flying over to Cardiff to complete a £15 million club record transfer from French side Nantes.

Emiliano Sala pictured with Cardiff’s CEO & Executive Director Ken Choo after joining the Welsh club at the weekend. | Photo: Cardiff City FC

The plane he was travelling on, a Piper Malibu N264DB piloted by David Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle in North Lincolnshire, crashed north of Guernsey after poor weather conditions.

The crash killed both Sala and Ibbotson, with the former’s body being found some two weeks after the incident. Ibbotson’s body was never located.

North Lincolnshire Pilot David Ibbotson. | Photo: GoFundMe page

Henderson has denied a further charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft, with the full two-week trial now due to start at 2pm on Tuesday.

The Air Accidents Investigations Branch’s report into David Ibbotson’s death found that he had likely suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and was flying too fast for the plane’s design limits.

An investigation found that Ibbotson had no night flying training, and held a private license that didn’t allow him to conduct flights for reward.

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