Jailed organiser of Emiliano Sala flight has ‘no further evidence to give’

David Henderson, 67, was jailed earlier this month after being convicted of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

A portrait of Emiliano Sala is displayed at the front of St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff (Jacob King/PA)
A portrait of Emiliano Sala is displayed at the front of St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff (Jacob King/PA)

A businessman jailed for 18 months over the plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala has “no further evidence” to give at the inquest into the sportsman’s death.

David Henderson, 67, was jailed earlier this month after being convicted of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Henderson had arranged the flight in which Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, were killed when their plane crashed in the English Channel in January 2019.

Lawyers for David Henderson say he has no further evidence to give to the inquest into the death of Emiliano Sala (Jacob King/PA).
Lawyers for David Henderson say he has no further evidence to give to the inquest into the death of Emiliano Sala (Jacob King/PA)

At the time, Sala was involved in a £15 million transfer to Cardiff from Ligue 1 side Nantes and was travelling between the two cities when he died.

An inquest into the footballer’s death is due to take place in Bournemouth next year.

During a pre-inquest review, Rachael Griffin, senior coroner for Dorset, said she had received a letter from lawyers representing Henderson regarding the inquest.

Reading the letter, Ms Griffin said: “We are instructed that our client has no further evidence to give to the senior coroner beyond that which he gave at criminal trial.

“Our client was in the witness box for a full day and sincerely believes there is nothing more that he can add that would assist the coroner.

“Fundamentally it was accepted by both the prosecution and Mr Justice Foxton that the way the flight arranged and operated did not cause the aircraft to crash.”

Henderson’s trial at Cardiff Crown Court heard he was not “pressured” into organising the flight by football agent Willie McKay and did so “for financial advantage”.

During the trial the court heard how Henderson had asked Mr Ibbotson to fly the plane, as he was away on holiday in Paris with his wife.

Mr Ibbotson, who flew regularly for Henderson, did not hold a commercial pilot’s licence, a qualification to fly at night, and his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.

Neither did Henderson have an air operator certificate (AOC), which meant he was not legally allowed to take money for trips.

The defendant, of Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, received an 18-month prison sentence for endangering the safety of the aircraft.

He received a further three-month sentence, to run concurrently, after pleading guilty to trying to arrange a flight for a passenger without permission or authorisation.

The former RAF officer is appealing against his sentence.

A further pre-inquest review will take place on January 13, with the inquest due to resume in February.

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