Man pleads guilty to charge relating to Emiliano Sala flight

David Henderson will stand trial accused of endangering the safety of the aircraft

A tribute to Emiliano Sala who died in a plane crash while travelling to Cardiff. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

A tribute to Emiliano Sala who died in a plane crash while travelling to Cardiff. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

 

A man has pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the flight in which footballer Emiliano Sala died.

David Henderson, 67, admitted attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

Henderson, of Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to the charge when he asked to be rearraigned on the eve of his trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

He is to stand trial accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, an offence under the Air Navigation Order (2016), which was brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A jury of seven men and five women were selected to hear the case after first confirming they were not Cardiff City FC supporters and not regular attendees of matches.

Trial judge Mr Justice Foxton warned the jurors they should only discuss the case among themselves when in their jury room.

“It is of the greatest importance that you do not talk to anybody about this case, except the 12 of you within the privacy of the jury room, and that includes family and friends and anyone outside your own number,” he said.

“I don’t just mean face to face, I mean WhatsApp, social media, Twitter, Facebook, text messages.

“People may be curious about this case but you must not talk to them about it.”

The judge told the jury he was sending them home and they should return to court for 2pm on Tuesday.

The flight carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, crashed north of Guernsey in January 2019.

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was bringing the striker to Wales as he was joining Cardiff City in a multimillion-pound transfer deal from French club Nantes.

The body of the Argentina striker was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane’s wreckage, was recovered.

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