Man pleads guilty to charge and denies another in connection with Emiliano Sala plane crash

Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died in January 2019 after the Argentine striker had signed for then-Premier League club Cardiff City, and David Henderson has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge related to the fatal plane crash

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Tributes paid to Emiliano Sala on anniversary of striker’s death

A man has pleaded guilty to one charge and not guilty to another in relation to the plane crash in which footballer Emiliano Sala died.

David Henderson was charged with attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation, relating to plane crash which resulted in the death of Emiliano Sala, who had signed for Cardiff, and pilot David Ibbotson in January 2019.

Henderson, who hails from Hotham, East Yorkshire, pleaded guilty when he asked to be rearranged on the eve of his trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

The 66-year-old is to stand trial accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, an offence under the Air Navigation Order (2016), brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Sala died along with Ibbotson in January 2019

Henderson is alleged to have arranged the flight carrying 28-year-old Sala and Ibbotson, 59, which crashed north of Guernsey on its way to Wales.

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was bringing the striker, who was involved in £15million transfer deal, from Ligue 1 side Nantes in France to Cardiff, then a Premier League club.

Sala’s body was recovered from the seabed in the February but the body of Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane have since been recovered.

David Henderson appeared at Cardiff Crown Court in connection with the plane crash which killed footballer Emiliano Sala



A jury inquest into pilot Ibbotson’s death was postponed until after Henderson’s trial, currently scheduled for Monday, February 14, 2022

Sala’s death preceded a bitter legal dispute involving the two clubs.

Nantes demanded the first of three payments for the player but Cardiff refused to hand over the £5.3million.

Sala had just left Nantes to sign for Cardiff


ABACA/PA Images)

The Bluebirds claimed that Sala was not yet legally their player, which lead to the French outfit reporting the now Championship side to FIFA.

After an investigation, FIFA ruled in Nantes’ favour which led Cardiff to begin a protracted legal process with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Bluebirds, relegated that season, received a ban from buying any new players for the subsequent three transfer windows, subject to a still-ongoing legal appeal.

Cardiff refused to pay the initial £5.3million transfer fee


AFP/Getty Images)

In 2020, the CAS told BBC Sports Wales: “The parties to the procedure have agreed to lengthen the regular time limits for the filing of the written submissions.

“It is for this reason the exchanges of written submissions is still ongoing and a hearing date has not yet been set.”

In July 2021, Sala’s sister, Romina, attempted to take her own life, while father Horacio died of a heart attack three months on from his son’s passing.

If you have been affected by any issues related to suicide and want to talk to someone who can help, you can contact a Samaritan at


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