November 12, 2021 12.32 pm This story is over 23 months old

Man who organised Emiliano Sala death flight is jailed for 18 months

A Lincolnshire pilot was unqualified for the flight that cost him his life

The man who organised the flight that killed Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson has been jailed for 18 months.

David Henderson, 67, of East Riding in Yorkshire, appeared in court in relation to a January 2019 incident which saw a plane carrying Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala crash north of Guernsey.

Sala was on his way to complete a £15 million transfer from French club Nantes to Cardiff City, but the Piper Malibu N264DB aircraft, piloted by Lincolnshire man David Ibbotson, 59, crashed and killed both men on board.

David Henderson was jailed for 18 months. | Photo: BBC

Emiliano Sala pictured with Cardiff’s CEO and executive director Ken Choo after joining the Welsh club. | Photo: Cardiff City FC

The Argentine footballer’s body was found in the English Channel two weeks after the crash, but pilot Ibbotson, of Crowle in North Lincolnshire, was never located.

Henderson was charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft and pleaded guilty to attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation after organising the flight.

Dave Ibbotson tragically died as the pilot of the Emiliano Sala flight. | Photo: Facebook

Prosecutors said he acted “recklessly and dangerously” to arrange the journey, as Cardiff Crown Court heard how Ibbotson was asked to fly Sala over to Wales, despite being unqualified to fly the plane.

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

On Friday, November 12, David Henderson was given an immediate custodial sentence of 18 months for endangering the safety of an aircraft, along with a concurrent sentence of three months for attempting to discharge a passenger.

Following the guilty verdict, director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority Rob Bishton said in a statement: “Illegal commercial flights present a significant safety risk and that’s reflected in the court’s decision today.”