Sala: David Henderson says 'not a day or hour goes by' where he doesn't think about fatal crash

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Bronwen Weatherby, PA
Fri, 22 October 2021, 2:23 pm


A man on trial over organising the flight that crashed into the English Channel killing footballer Emiliano Sala has been accused of running a “cowboy outfit”.

David Henderson, 67, from the East Riding of Yorkshire, is charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft after a plane carrying the 28-year-old striker and pilot David Ibbotson went into the sea near Guernsey on the evening of January 21 2019.

The prosecution alleges Henderson was “reckless and negligent” in allowing Mr Ibbotson to fly because he was not qualified to fly at night and did not have a commercial pilot’s licence.

Although Henderson admits he knew Mr Ibbotson only had a private pilot’s licence (PPL), he told Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigators and the police that he was not aware the pilot did not have a certificate to fly after dark.

Emiliano Sala was on his way to Cardiff City, his new club, when the plane carrying him crashed into the Channel (Mark Kerton/PA)

However, text messages between himself and Mr Ibbotson in the months leading up to the crash show them discussing the pilot’s lack of a night-time flying qualification and Henderson encourages him to get it to “make it official”.

Henderson told the court he did not keep information about his pilots’ qualifications but said he trusted them, including Mr Ibbotson, to fly safely within their ability.

He said he did not tell William “Willie” McKay, a football agent who had asked him to fly Sala from Nantes, that Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to fly because he was confident he was an “experienced pilot who was keen and enthusiastic and wanted to fly”.

Martin Goudie QC, prosecuting, said: “What sort of cowboy outfit were you running at this time that you didn’t know if your pilot had his ratings or not?”

Under further cross-examination at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday, Henderson, a father-of-four and former RAF officer, admitted he was concerned his business would face investigation after Mr Ibbotson committed a number of airspace infringements in the months prior to the crash.

In a message to Mr Ibbotson at the time, Henderson said: “We both have an opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA.”

Mr Goudie said: “Isn’t the true situation that you didn’t want anyone looking at how you were running these flights because you knew you were running them illegally?”

Henderson replied: “There’s probably some element of that, yes.”

The jurors have heard that messages sent by Henderson after the crash included telling aircraft engineer David Smith to “keep very quiet”, adding: “Need to be very careful. Opens up a whole can of worms.”

Mr Goudie said: “We know why you said that, because Mr Ibbotson should never have been on that flight. This is about a cover-up, this text message, isn’t it?”

Henderson told the court he was concerned with the wrong information being leaked to the press, and said: “I was not covering up.”

The jury was also taken through text messages Henderson sent to the plane’s owner, Fay Keely, and others blaming the crash immediately on Mr Ibbotson.

Mr Goudie also directed the jury to look at call logs that showed the people Henderson rang after hearing about the crash, which included Mr Smith, Mr McKay and, eventually, Ms Keely.

He said: “You made no contact with Nora Ibbotson, the next of kin of the pilot.”

Henderson replied: “It would not be normal for me to contact the next of kin.”

Henderson has admitted being the operator of the plane but insists that, at the time, he believed the responsibility for the flight lay with the pilot in command, Mr Ibbotson.
Sounds like they're ripping into him in that courtroom. The jury will probably be convinced of his guilt.
 

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It’s sickening.

Worst thing is I expect that McKay knew that these dodgy things went on, but worse that Warnock knew McKay was dodgy.

Then, where does the chain of people who were happy to deal with the less than honest end ?

2 people have died, one of them a completely innocent young man. It’s heartbreaking.

What the hell were we doing allowing McKay anywhere near our club- at the end of the day his 2 lads who were nowhere near good enough were playing for our under 23s- that stinks in itself.

I loved what Warnock did for our club snd will clap him today, but I’d really love to know what he knew about McKay and why he was willing to do favours for him.

Feels like the club is cursed.

Sala, Whittingham, Morrison ( burst appendix), Mc Phail’s cancer, Barker, Brazier, and I’m sure loads more …

Seem to have so many awful things happen
 

steve davies

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It’s sickening.

Worst thing is I expect that McKay knew that these dodgy things went on, but worse that Warnock knew McKay was dodgy.

Then, where does the chain of people who were happy to deal with the less than honest end ?

2 people have died, one of them a completely innocent young man. It’s heartbreaking.

What the hell were we doing allowing McKay anywhere near our club- at the end of the day his 2 lads who were nowhere near good enough were playing for our under 23s- that stinks in itself.

I loved what Warnock did for our club snd will clap him today, but I’d really love to know what he knew about McKay and why he was willing to do favours for him.

Feels like the club is cursed.

Sala, Whittingham, Morrison ( burst appendix), Mc Phail’s cancer, Barker, Brazier, and I’m sure loads more …

Seem to have so many awful things happen

im surprised no one from our club is amongst the list of witnesses I’ve seen Tim. I’m told warnock used that plane himself a couple of times to fly to Nantes. The club arrange a separate flight for the player but that was never used. Surely there had to be questions over who gave him permission to miss that flight and if so they must have known what the alternative arrangements were. Perhaps there will be a separate enquiry/trial further down the line that will reveal our club and Nantes involvement in all this
 

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im surprised no one from our club is amongst the list of witnesses I’ve seen Tim. I’m told warnock used that plane himself a couple of times to fly to Nantes. The club arrange a separate flight for the player but that was never used. Surely there had to be questions over who gave him permission to miss that flight and if so they must have known what the alternative arrangements were. Perhaps there will be a separate enquiry/trial further down the line that will reveal our club and Nantes involvement in all this
As I understand we offered to pay for a flight. Sala wanted to say a longer goodbye to his old team mates so McKay [who I think was acting on behalf of Nantes] arranged a private flight. I can't see how the City are in any way culpable
 
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steve davies

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As I understand we offered to pay for a flight. Salary wanted to say a longer goodbye to his old team mates so McKay [who I think was acting on behalf of Nantes] arranged a private flight. I can't see how the City are in any way culpable
City arranged a first class flight for sala from orly airport that would have got him back to Cardiff for 6pm on Sunday ready for training Monday. I’m not saying the club are culpable in any way but I would like to know who in the club gave permission for him to take the other fatal flight.
for me it begs the question wether he was officially our player at the time because surely we should have insisted he took the flight the club had arranged for him
 

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im surprised no one from our club is amongst the list of witnesses I’ve seen Tim. I’m told warnock used that plane himself a couple of times to fly to Nantes. The club arrange a separate flight for the player but that was never used. Surely there had to be questions over who gave him permission to miss that flight and if so they must have known what the alternative arrangements were. Perhaps there will be a separate enquiry/trial further down the line that will reveal our club and Nantes involvement in all this



Just going off memory I think NW was flown over, just not on that plane.

Fairly sure he went over on a private jet
 

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