An inquest jury has concluded footballer Emiliano Sala died after the plane taking him to Cardiff for a £15 million transfer fee broke up in mid-air and pumped toxic carbon monoxide levels into the aircraft before crashing.
Sala, 28, was on his way to Cardiff City from French side Nantes after a £15 million fee was agreed between the two clubs in January 2019.
The plane taking him to the Welsh capital was being piloted by Lincolnshire man David Ibbotson, and the Piper Malibu N264DB aircraft crashed north of Guernsey, killing both men on board.
The Argentine striker’s body was found in the English Channel two weeks after the crash, but pilot Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle in North Lincolnshire, was never located.
An inquest into the crash and subsequent deaths found Sala had suffered head and trunk injuries after the plane broke up in mid-air, and a jury found his death was likely a result of being overcome by toxic levels of carbon monoxide from a faulty exhaust system.
Sala had a carbon monoxide blood saturation level of 58%, a rate which a pathologist at the inquest called ‘severe poisoning’.
David Henderson, 67, organised the flight and was jailed for 18 months in November 2021 for endangering the safety of an aircraft, as well as facing a further three-month sentence for attempting to discharge a passenger.
Prosecutors say Henderson acted “recklessly and dangerously” to arrange the flight, having hired the ‘unqualified’ Ibbotson to fly the plane, and sending a text message warning “don’t say a word to anyone” upon hearing about the crash.