David henderson, the man who organized the trip of Emiliano Sala to Cardiff where the Argentine footballer passed away, entered prison this Friday to serve a sentence of 18 months.
The 67-year-old British businessman was declared last October guilty of two charges related to aircraft safety and with the relevant permits, as decided then by the court of justice in Cardiff, Wales (United Kingdom).
During the trial, the prosecution charged Henderson with “endanger the safety of the aircraft“while he himself pleaded guilty to another charge for organizing the flight without having the necessary permits to do so.
Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, died on January 21, 2019 in a plane crash in the English Channel, when the Argentine footballer traveled from Nantes to Cardiff after completing his signing for the Welsh club for about 20 million euros.
The investigating judge explained this Friday that the 18-month sentence corresponds to the first charge, while the second carries a three-month prison sentence, although it will be served at the same time.
The businessman’s lawyers have already advanced that they will appeal the sentence, while the competent authorities will start an independent investigation into this incident next year.
Sala’s body was recovered days after the accident next to the plane’s fuselage, while Ibbotson’s was never found.
During this criminal process, the prosecution explained that Henderson was the person in charge of organizing the trips of the plane in which the footballer died and that he scheduled the trip to Cardiff despite knowing Ibbotson’s irregularities.
According to this argument, the owner of the aircraft, Fay Keely, had warned Henderson not to let Ibbotson fly because he did not have a license for commercial flights and for having received several notices of irregularities from the air authorities.
However, when the intermediaries for Sala’s signing commissioned Henderson to organize the flight to Cardiff, the latter, not being in Nantes and being in Paris with his wife, hired Ibbotson for the job.
Henderson argued at trial that he persuaded Keely to carry out the work over the phone, but Keely said she did not remember that call.
The prosecution attorney, Martin Goudie, claimed that Henderson was “negligent” in how he operated the plane and that “it put its business above the safety of the passengers by hiring pilots without the necessary qualifications to fly or not competent to complete certain flights.”